Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


American Studies

Reader 1

Julie Liss

Reader 2

Kevin Williamson

Reader 3

Todd Honma

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© 2020 Julia Gottlieb


As a Cold War political initiative, the US State Department commissioned dance performances to showcase the constructed appeal of American modernism, universalism, and racial harmony. Modern dance as virtuosic embodied movement became an extremely useful “structure of feeling” and tool of diplomacy to connect with transnational audiences. This thesis studies two performances: Katherine Dunham’s Southland (1951) and Alvin Ailey’s Revelations (1960) to understand the ways in which artists resisted the State Department’s attempt to inscribe the ideals of the nation into these works. Through new definitions of modernism, I argue that these performances overcame the national narratives applied to the works.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.