Date of Award:

12-2013

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

English

Advisor/Chair:

Evelyn I. Funda

Abstract

The marriage custom of charivari/shivaree evolved from a punitive form of social control in Europe and Great Britain, to a raucous American celebration that welcomed newlyweds into a community. The isolated ranching community of Park Valley, Utah performed their own unique version of shivaree. This investigation of their ritualized tradition began with a review of the cultural landscape combined with the contemporary rural society that forms a community-clan who descends from six pioneer families. The existing community outlived mining and railroad towns that originally populated the area. The surviving Mormon culture is reflected in the value and belief structure of its people and, therefore, their social activities. This context built a foundation for interpreting the function of the community's shivarees. Twenty-five primary interviews provided seven case studies, which structured the argument that their impromptu performances went beyond just offering a hand of welcome; their shivarees, performed after the formal marriage festivities, functioned as a complex rite of passage. Ritualized traditions like kidnapping the bride and groom, wearing crazy get-ups, and breaking bread together codified the relationships that bound their society together. In all cases, at least one member of the newly married couple was an insider of the community - they belonged to the community clan. The impromptu performance was organized using local resources as the newlyweds were moved from the sacred to secular sphere, creating a liminal period where social norms were tested, before the final rite of passage. Park Valley shivarees transitioned them into their new social position as contributing members of this insular society; it was an informal rite of acceptance.

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