Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 4.30.38 PM

The Western is the richest and most enduring genre of American film.  More myth than history, it is both formula film and a source of great innovation. Beginning with Reconstruction, this program will examine the important connections between the Western and the tale of expansion (economic, geographic, ecological, cultural) and violent conquest that is the American frontier myth.  We will consider how the Western has evolved over the past century and what this evolution tells us about film, history and culture.  We will analyze classic Westerns and the myriad sub-genres that exemplify this distinctly American art form.  In addition to diverse short readings and a screenplay or two, there are three primary texts for this program:  Richard Slotkin’s Gunfighter Nation, The Western Reader, edited by Jim Kitses and Gregg Rickman, and James McPherson’s Into the West (McPherson’s book is out of print but easily accessible to purchase online).  Home screenings are a central program requirement.  Therefore, students will need access to a comprehensive source for DVD rentals, such as Netflix or Amazon Prime.  Films we will stud include The Searchers, Red River, High Noon, Little Big Man, Buffalo Bill and the Indians, Unforgiven and No Country for Old Men (a more extensive list can be found inside the “Required Books and Films” link).  Students will engage independently and collaboratively in readings, film screenings, seminars, workshops, and writing assignments.  The program will include a field trip to view the exhibit, “The Art of the American West” at the Tacoma Art Museum on Saturday, Oct. 24.


Screen Shot 2015-09-18 at 2.20.05 PM