Catalog 2013-2014

Race and Gender in Images of the American West

  • Semester: Spring
  • Course Number: HM272C
  • Instructors: Carol Dickson
  • Credit: 2

Course Description

Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show traveled the country around the turn of the twentieth-century, performing iconic imaged of the West—from Annie Oakley’s gun tricks to reenactments of Custer’s “last stand” to displays of Native American “warriors.”  In many ways, this show typified the central role that the American West has played in the formation of American cultural identity—frequently through images more mythic than real.  This course explores the ways that popular culture, including fiction and particularly film, has constructed the West as a place where cultural ideologies of race, gender, and the natural world are played out.  In examining a range of texts that depict popular images of the American West, we will analyze what different visions of race, gender, and nature suggest about identity and power in American culture.