The New Western

Critical Essays on the Genre Since 9/11


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About the Book

American moviegoers have long turned to the Hollywood Western for reassurance in times of crisis. During the genre’s heyday, the films of John Ford, Howard Hawks and Henry Hathaway reflected a grand patriotism that resonated with audiences at the end of World War II. The tried-and-true Western was questioned by Ford and George Stevens during the Cold War, and in the 1960s directors like Sam Peckinpah and George Roy Hill retooled the genre as a commentary on American ethics during the Vietnam War. Between the mid–1970s and early 1990s, the Western faded from view—until the Gulf War, when Kevin Costner’s Dances with Wolves (1990) and Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven (1992) brought it back, with moral complexities. Since 9/11, the Western has seen a resurgence, blending its patriotic narrative with criticism of America’s place in the global community. Exploring such films as True Grit (2010) and Brokeback Mountain (2005), along with television series like Deadwood and Firefly, this collection of new essays explores how the Western today captures the dichotomy of our times and remains important to the American psyche.

About the Author(s)

Scott F. Stoddart is the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Saint Peter’s University in Jersey City, New Jersey. He has written broadly about popular culture, literature and the arts on such topics as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Stephen Sondheim and the Coen brothers. He is also a host of the Sundance television series Love/Lust and a contributing correspondent to the PBS series American Icons.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Scott F. Stoddart

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 268
Bibliographic Info: 6 photos, notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2016
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7928-3
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2420-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Introduction 1

Part I. Familiar Landscapes
“Built Ford Tough”: The “Sincerity” of John Ford and the Persistence of the American Western (Arthur Redding) 10
“It was justified”: Visceral Violence in the New Television Western—Deadwood, Hell on Wheels and Justified (Patrick Condliffe) 19

Part II. New Westerns in Dialogue
“Fooling around with Papa’s pistol”: Avenging Patriarchy in True Grit (Jenna Hunnef) 40
Coen, Coen on the Range: Rooster Cogburn(s) and Domestic Space (Joseph S. Walker) 62
The Beginning and the End: Gay Representations in Brokeback Mountain and 3:10 to Yuma (Vincent Piturro) 81
Brokeback Mountain Queering the “Legend”: Historical Hegemony and Masculine Memory (Scott F. Stoddart) 95

Part III. New Frontiers
The Post-9/11 Mohecan: Avatar and the Transformation of the “Manifest Apology” (Andrew Howe) 116
Security or Freedom: Joss Whedon’s Science Fiction Westerns, Firefly and Serenity (J.P.C. Brown) 137
Sixguns and the Shadowless Kick: Mythmaking and Generic Hybridization in Westerns and Martial Arts Fantasies (Fontaine Lien) 159

Part IV. New Visions
Reclaiming Past, Resisting Progression: Existential Tensions in Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption (Michael Samuel) 172
Alex Cox and the Hybrid Western (Matthew Sorrento) 188
The Vertical Frontier: Amir Naderi’s Vegas and the End of American Dream After 9/11 (Marco Grosoli) 207

Epilogue—New Visions / New Vistas: Christopher Nolan’s Batman Trilogy and the New Western (Scott F. Stoddart) 229
About the Contributors 245
Index 247