The ethos of Sheridan's Daybreak(s): historical constructions of space, place, and rural identity in Sheridan County, Montana
Following from the fact that the concept of ethos carries connotations that imply spatiality, it can be said that ethos is determined in relation to the spatial inhabitants of any given place. In trying to understand a spatially determined ethos, this thesis studies the construction and reproduction of The Sheridan's Daybreak(s) series from Sheridan County, Montana. Produced throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, these local histories lend themselves to a study of the characteristic qualities of place negotiated by the presence of matter together in space. The study of the Daybreak(s) reveals an anthropocentric presentation of ethos in the 'pioneer' figure that inevitably understands itself in relation to the context of 'nature' which it shares the spaces of Sheridan County with. It also reveals a nostalgic and romanticized type of memory in regards to both spaces and the past families of this place that does not critically engage with the events of those families lives. And it reveals the persistent presence of the global within the local spaces of its inhabitants through presentations of the Rural Idyll and modern day, mechanized agricultural production. Each of these, in part, make up the ethos of the spaces of Sheridan County represented in the Daybreak(s). In interpreting the representations of space and place, this thesis argues for continually ongoing re-readings of our local histories in order to better understand the ethos of the past that contributes to the socially and materially constructed present. In doing so, scholars can give more attention to issues of rurality and local history while giving credit to the material contexts from which these local histories arise.