The Western Film Genre and the American Frontier Myth

Winter 2023
Evening and Weekend
Freshman - Senior
Class Size: 25
8 Credits per quarter
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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 reveals to us about film, history and culture. We will analyze classic and modern Westerns (The Searchers,  Unforgiven, andThe Ballad of Little Jo, for example), and myriad sub-genres that exemplify this distinctly American art form. Primary texts may include Richard Slotkin’s classic book, Gunfighter Nation, The Western Reader by John Kitses and Greg Rickman, and It’s Your Misfortune and None of My Own by Richard White. We will write about and screen one or two films at home every week. This is a hybrid program that will involve online classes (via Canvas and Zoom) on Wednesday evenings (6-8:50 PM) and five Saturday meetings on campus (10 AM – 3:50 PM).


Winter 2023 Registration

Academic details

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Time Offered
Evening and Weekend
Schedule Evergreen link
see Schedule Evergreen for detailed schedule

First Meeting

Evans Hall 1412 - Workshop