Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Communication Studies

First Advisor

Mary Frances HopKins


The purpose of this dissertation is to demonstrate that the Florida Chautauqua in De Funiak Springs, Florida, was primarily a commercial venture which pretended to a goal of offering cultural, educational, and religious products. In the Chautauqua's early years, it succeeded because it could exploit the economic and cultural situation. The Assembly tried to create a market for "culture" by developing cultural competencies in potential consumers so that those consumers would "buy" what the Chautauqua could sell. As the situation changed, the Florida Chautauqua, though it tried, could not adapt enough to be viable. To support the argument, I describe the institution known as the Florida Chautauqua in terms of its presentation as "text." Pierre Bourdieu's description of cultural competence and the role of education, both formal and informal, in creating an ability to recognize cultural value in goods and then providing a means to appropriate those goods is central to this study. Throughout its thirty-five year history, various themes were dominant. The initial period (roughly 1885-1896) was dominated by religion. During the second period (1897-1906) entertainment came to the forefront. During both periods education was an important factor as well. The last period (1907-1920) was marked by an assembly in flux, unable to settle on a dominant theme. The printed programs provide valuable insight into the performance text (those events which comprised the formal program) and cultural text (the amalgamation of performance events plus informal events such as social interaction) of the Florida Chautauqua. This study is primarily a content analysis of the assembly and is not meant to address issues such as the relationship with the New York Chautauqua, the specific correspondence with changes in religion or entertainment in the United States in general, or reconstruction and the Civil War.