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General Notes

This is a final-year Advanced Option module. If you've never done any Western history aside from playing Red Dead Redemption and wearing a poncho, now is the time to do some catch up reading and viewing before classes start in September.

On the first day, you should have already seen

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)

Thelma and Louise (1991)

True Grit (1969; 2010)

Giant (1956)

and you should have read

The Last of the Mohicans (1825). It's here: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/27681

Geronimo's Story of His Life (1906). It's here: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/31318/31318-h/31318-h.htm

Little House in the Big Woods (1932). It's here: https://www.gutenberg.ca/ebooks/wildersewell-woods/wildersewell-woods-01-h-dir/wildersewell-woods-01-h.html

We will be discussing these texts throughout the year, but you will feel more comfortable with the broad outlines of the module if you have studied these on your own. Playing Red Dead Redemption is also acceptable prep. If you can explain why Patricia Limerick once called the frontier the "F word," then you are well on your way to understanding modern historiography of the American West.

Your written work will enable you to explore the cultural history of the West in greater detail. You will have some choice of topics. If you have never studied literature or cinema and media before, you may find some elements of the module challenging at first.

There are clips tied to each seminar week and those for the second term will be put up over the winter break. Each week, I'll attach a short audio recording, series of images or notes for you.

Learning Outcomes
  • Demonstrate a systematic knowledge and understanding of how the concept of the frontier emerged and changed from 1820 to the present, as well as the development of the western genre from the silent era to the present.
  • Critically analyse and evaluate a broad range of sources (including film and visual texts) relating to the cultural history of the American West.
  • Effectively communicate ideas, and make informed, coherent and persuasive arguments, about the cultural history of the American West.
  • Critically review and consolidate theoretical, methodological, and historiographical ideas relating to the study of the West and the frontier in history, literature, and film.

Note on seminars: We do not use Moodle; all coursework will be on the main class webpages here, and seminars and chats will be on Teams. I will put clips up for each week on the seminar main page, and you will also see seminar questions to prepare in advance of each seminar. You will be notified via Tabula which seminar group will meet on campus -- we are planning to alternate each week from online to campus, with the first seminars beginning online October 14 and 15.