Date of Award

Summer 7-24-2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in American Studies (MAST)


Interdisciplinary Studies

Committee Chair/First Advisor

Dr. Robbie Lieberman

Second Advisor

Dr. David King

Third Advisor

Dr. William Rice


This project consists of two parts:

I: A literature review, which includes a reflection, a script synopsis, and a meta-analysis.

II: An original screenplay.

The literature review considers the implications of class, race, gender, politics, and the internal mythos of country music. The reflection takes core concepts from the literature review and draws a line from the origins of country music to the post-World War II political break between folk and country, and then on to the emergence of outlaw country in the late 1960s. I contend that outlaw country, which I define broadly, emerged from the same countercurrent as post-WWII folk, and it does not uphold the conservative traditions of country music. However, unlike folk, outlaw country is generally apolitical.

The screenplay, Stumbler, centers on John, a terminally-ill man who decides that he wants to go back to his rural hometown and become a musician. His worst problem (among many) is that he has no musical talent. As he goes on his journey, darker things lie ahead of him.

The screenplay examines many of the themes introduced in the literature review and built upon in the reflection, but as a creative piece, it takes its own direction. In the script, I consider issues of mental illness, substance abuse, and life in rural America. I consider rural Americans through a dual lense: on the one hand, they elected a man who threatens the foundations of civilization; on the other, they profess virtue. I leave open any questions about that contradiction.