The University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NZ, T +44 (0)1227 764000
The American West
The American West is a contentious, constructed landscape steeped in folklore and myth. Along with film makers and novelists, academic scholars have themselves contributed to the making of the West (think Frederick Jackson Turner's Frontier Thesis). Today, our work at Kent pioneers a post-revisionist reading of the West that seeks to move beyond old dichotomies and tired stereotypes. Our scholarly practice involves a new sensitivity to older sources (such as dime novels and Native oral traditions) as well as the unearthing of fresh dimensions of conceiving the West (such as a heritage landscape and an entertainment spectacle).
Our research cluster is especially interested in: (a) the visual (and recreational) aspect of the American West. How the West has been constructed in popular culture, with special attention to dime novel covers from the late nineteenth century, 1930s B-Westerns and 'singing cowboys', and videogames from 1975 onwards (see the research project on 'The Arcade Western') (b) Border crossings, including the construction of identity on the US-Mexico border and the movement of people/animals across the 49th parallel (c) environmental issues, particularly national park history and wildlife management in the West. See the research project on 'Hunting in Montana' as well as our separate research cluster on US environmental issues.
Our members are active supporters of the new Native Studies Research Network (UK).
'A Real Live Cowboy' stereograph (1898) Library of Congress
Cluster Members & Individual Interests:
Dr Tamar Jeffers McDonald (Film Studies) - Films of Doris Day (including Calamity Jane)
Dr Karen Jones (History) - Animals in the West; Female Identity
Dr Peter Stanfield (Film Studies) - Hollywood Western; Gene Autry
Dr David Stirrup (English) - Native American Literature; representations/inventions of the American "Indian"
Dr John Wills (History) - Arcade Western; Recreation; Dime Novels