Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

American Studies

Major Professor

Daniel Belgrad, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Annette Cozzi, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Andrew Berish, Ph.D.


status, promotion, storytelling, weber, wolfe


There is much scholarship to suggest that the idea of America is an idea of a meritocracy. Generally, the ideal construction of American meritocracy involves people working hard and being able to accomplish whatever they set their minds to. Filmmaker Robert Altman constructs a very different America. In Altman's eyes, success is achieved through promotion, either self-promotion or promotion by others. An individual's status, whether it be within a peer group or on a national level, is far more important that the actual work that that person has done. This thesis will also examine how Altman presents this promotion as a form of storytelling, and how Altman creates a relationship between promotion, storytelling, and conflict between different status structures. This analysis will include not only elements of the larger plots and themes of the selected films (Nashville, Short Cuts, and Gosford Park,) but formal analysis as well.