Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Jean Graham-Jones

Committee Members

Marvin Carlson

David Savran

Subject Categories

American Popular Culture | Dramatic Literature, Criticism and Theory | Fine Arts | History of Art, Architecture, and Archaeology | Latin American Languages and Societies | Latin American Literature | Latina/o Studies | Other Theatre and Performance Studies | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies | Theatre History


Latin America, posthegemony, Cubanía, history, nineteenth century, Caribbean


The Spanish-Cuban-American War, declared by the United States on April 25, 1898, marks a colonial shift in the history of the Caribbean and solidified the expansionist thrust of the United States outside national borders. Theatres in turn-of-the-century New York, which at this point was one of the theatrical centers of the nation, debated for audiences the imperialist character of the U.S. The Cuban struggle and the resulting Spanish-Cuban-American War permeated U.S. drama, thereby portraying a Caribbean in need of salvation by the military intervention of the United States. New York stages of the time became locations where various cultural representations came into contact.

Those voices silenced in New York theatres also negotiated their identity through the construction of a U.S. Otherness. Cuban theatre around the time of the war portrayed a complex picture of the invading nation and the contradictions in its humanitarian mission to liberate the island from Spain. Cuban playwrights conceived their national identity in opposition and parallel to the United States. Their construction of a staged American otherness questioned U.S. imperialism amidst the invasion. This project establishes a dialogue between the representation of Caribbean Otherness on New York stages and American Otherness in plays produced in La Habana to examine how national stages commented on the encounter of nations that resulted from the Spanish-Cuban-American War.

I contend that the representation of Caribbean difference in turn-of-the-century U.S. theatre about the Spanish-Cuban-American War must be examined alongside Cuban performances of American Otherness. By focusing on difference, this comparative analysis will not only reveal how the United States envisioned itself as an overseas empire, but also how theatres in La Habana questioned the U.S. humanitarian mission in the Caribbean.