Department or Program



1887 saw the residency of Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West show in London as a part of the larger American Exhibition of that year. British interest and engagement with the American West had roots in the decades preceding this residency, but it is through looking at this historic moment that we can better understand how British identity of the late 1800s is shaped by performance. Working from the conception that identity is shaped through performance, and the idea that performance can happen on behalf of an audience engaged in a theatrical show, I argue that the Wild West aids in shaping British identity by providing space wherein anxieties, beliefs, and preconceived notions regarding class, gender, and race, can all be comfortingly validated. Though the depictions of Cody’s show are meant to showcase Frontier Life in the American West, these performances in fact do a lot of work toward resonating with currently held British ideals and opinions regarding appropriate class behaviors, gender roles, and racial ideology. Thus, by engaging in these performances as audience members, internalizing the underlying classed, gendered, and racialized narratives, and then spreading that discourse through the media or word of mouth, British identity has a space to develop, with particular facets of that identity becoming more entrenched.

Level of Access

Restricted: Embargoed [Open Access After Expiration]

First Advisor

Shaw, Caroline

Date of Graduation


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages



Available to all on Monday, May 20, 2024