Remembering the Alamo: The Story of the Texas
Revolution in Popular Culture
1)ON ( RAI IAM*
Republic. I like the sound of the word. It illlcans
people can live free, talk 1ree. (;o or ome, buy
or sell, be drunk or sober, however they choose.
Some words can gile you a feeling that makes
vour heart warm. Republic is one of those
John Wayne's I)avy Crockett, The Alamo, 196o
T IIE TEXAS REVOLUTION IIAS SPAWNED AN ENORMOUS NITUMBER OF LIT-
erary and film-making attempts to capture the excitement, es-
sence, and meaning of the seminal event in Anglo Texas history. The
overwhelming majority of this written and filmi literature belongs to
popular culture as distinct from elitist or folk culture.' In this usage
popular culture bears 11o taint of condescension. Rather, this form of
artistic expression should be regarded as a valid subject of historical in-
quiry. Recent studies of popular culture by historians such as John 11.
Lenihan demonstrate the appropriateness of such investigations into
materials once scorned by historians. Historians would (do well to heed
the advice of English novelist Henry Fielding, who long ago urged the
importance of scrutinizing popular materials in order better to under-
stand a culture. Wrote Fielding: "I must blame you for taking so little
*Don Graham is associate professor of English at the University of Texas, Austin. He is the
author of (Cowboy% and Caddlacl : How Hollywood Looks at Texas (Austin, 1983) and coceditor of The
Texas Liteiary Tiadition: Fution, olkloe, Ht.toy (Austin, 198l). Tlhe author wislhes to thank Kevin
Coffey for his research assistance, the University Researth Institute of the IUniversity of lexas,
which provided ai Special Resear h G(; ant, and Karen Mc('ol mi k for her speedy anI and acu ate
preparation of the final copy of the manuscript.
'Ray B. Browne employs these terms in his essay "Popular Cultrue: Notes toward a I)cehni-
tion," Rav B. Browne (ed.), Popular Cultue and the Expandtng Con.wioumsnesA. (New York, 197:3), 15.
Browne defines popular culture as "all those elements of life which are not narrowly intellct-
tual or creatively elitist and which are generally though not necessarily disseminated through
the mass media" (p. 22).
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 89, July 1985 - April, 1986. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117151/. Accessed January 29, 2015.