The American West

Autumn 2016-2017


Janice Knight

This course considers the power of the West as an imagined construct, an ideologically charged and prophetic “direction” in American cultural production. Beginning with Elizabethan dreams of wealth and haven, as well as Revolutionary and Jeffersonian articulations of America’s redemptive role in world politics, we will focus primarily on 19th century novels and paintings of westwarding as an American “Manifest Destiny.” Finally, we will turn to the marketing of the west in dime novels, the Wild West Show, Hollywood films, and contemporary television. Throughout the quarter we will follow out the contemporary challenges posed to boosters of the mythic west. (B, G)