William Acree's research explores the cultural history of Latin America since independence, concentrating on the enduring impacts of ephemeral experiences and cultural goods.
William Acree received his BA from Berry College and his PhD from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Acree’s interest in the quotidian and the lasting impact of what are often ephemeral cultural products informs his new book—Staging Frontiers: The Making of Modern Popular Culture in Argentina & Uruguay (forthcoming with the University of New Mexico Press Diálogos Series)—on the Creole drama phenomenon and how it shaped modern popular culture in Argentina & Uruguay.
Just what was this “Creole” drama phenomenon? Beginning in the 1880s traveling performers put on short plays at circus shows (usually consisting of acrobatic tricks and music) in the countryside, small towns, and later port capitals. While drawing from previous strains of popular culture, these shows were distinct: they staged local content, where native-sons were the heroes, and the tensions between rural life and modernization played out on stage. Almost as soon as they began, these dramas became the main attraction of the circus, and one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the late 1800s, resulting in the emergence of a theater-going public and a vibrant cultural marketplace.
Acree’s first book, Everyday Reading: Print Culture and Collective Identity in the Río de la Plata (1780-1910) (Vanderbilt University Press, 2011, was the recipient of the Southern Cone Studies Section 2013 Humanities Book Award of the Latin American Studies Association. His research has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, a J. William Fulbright Scholar award, a Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Fellowship, and grants from the Mellon and Tinker Foundations.