This module explores the American West in the twentieth century, looking at social, political, economic and environmental dynamics. It plots the continuing evolution of the trans-Mississippi region in its 'developed' state (post the closure of the Frontier) as a geographical and an imagined space. A core aim lies in illuminating the West as a contested place party to many visions through discussion of such topics as Las Vegas and urban Cold War culture, the West, the militia movement, Western environmentalism and Red Power. Emphasis is placed on exploring the constructed mythology of the West via various modern mediums including Wild West shows, Disneyland and the cowboy brand in politics. Over the course of the module, we will engage with the Hollywood Western as an evolving product, situated in its twentieth-century context, as well as revisionist
scholarship on the region based around ideas of continuity versus change, ecological transformation and variegated Western identity.
One 1-hour lecture and one 2-hour seminar each week.
Method of assessment
R WHITE - 'It's Your Misfortune and None of my Own’: A New History of the American West' (1991)
W CRONIN - 'Under An Open Sky: Rethinking America’s Western Past' (1992)
R MISRACH - 'Bravo 20: The Bombing of the American West' (1990)
P LIMERICK - 'Legacy of Conquest: Unbroken Past of the American West' (1987)
M DAVIS - 'Ecology of Fear: Los Angeles and the Imagination of Disaster' (1999)
C MILNER (ed) - 'Major Problems in the History of the American West' (1997)
See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)
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