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The Western

ENGL 291.401

The western is one of the defining genres of American film. Many westerns are nostalgic eulogies, which recall the early days of the expansive, untamed American frontier. Westerns are usually set during the second half of the 19th century, in geographically south-western locations with sweeping landscapes or rugged terrain. Some westerns recall America’s colonial period.  As one of the more malleable film genres, the western has emerged in a variety of permutations and national cinemas. Its lexicon has inspired directors and captivated audiences in nations including Italy, Japan, Germany and Spain.  Legendary for its imagery, the western is infamous for its ideology. Its celebrated literary and cinematic forms rationalized the displacement, subordination, conquest and extermination of North America’s indigenous populations. This course investigates the western genre in film from the perspective of genre studies, feminist film theory, structural analysis as myth, and film history. Screenings, readings, papers and attendance are required.

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