The Psychology of the Western

How the American Psyche Plays Out on Screen


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About the Book

Western films are often considered sprawling reflections of the American spirit. This book analyzes the archetypes, themes, and figures within the mythology of the western frontier. Western themes are interpreted as expressions of cultural needs that perform specific psychological functions for the audience. Chapters are devoted to the frontier hero character, the roles of women and Native Americans, and the work of the genre’s most prolific directors, Anthony Mann and John Ford. The book includes a filmography and movie stills. Instructors considering this book for use in a course may request an examination copy here.

About the Author(s)

William Indick is Professor of Psychology at Dowling College in Oakdale, New York. He is the author of several books on media psychology, and has written for numerous psychology journals. He lives in Islip, New York.

Bibliographic Details

William Indick
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 223
Bibliographic Info: 13 photos, filmography, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2008
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3460-2
eISBN: 978-0-7864-9211-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vi
Preface      1
Introduction      5

1. The Mythical Landscape      11
2. White Knights of the West      23
3. The Civilized and the Savage      34
4. Western Women      60
5. Atonement with the Indian      73
6. Oedipal and Biblical Westerns      87
7.       116
8. John Ford’s Ritualistic Westerns      140

Conclusion: The Western… Dead or Alive?      177
Filmography      197
Bibliography      207
Index      211

Book Reviews & Awards

“fans of Western movies will enjoy this book…accessible,interesting, and insightful”—Southwest Journal of Cultures