English 187A-1 - Fall, 2017

Topics in Literature & Media

    Topic: The American West - Film and Fiction

Class Information

Instructor: Simmon, Scott
CRN: 41915
Time: TR 9:00-11:50
Location: 120 Voorhies


    This fifteen-student seminar will explore the American West as it has been represented on film and in fiction. We’ll examine both traditional Westerns and tales of the contemporary West. We’ll look into the Western’s way of narrating through landscape and coded gestures, into Hollywood's genre crossbreeding, and into experimental narratives from independent and international filmmakers. Demanding study too will be the Western’s heavy cultural baggage: its revealing representations of violence, race, and gender. Alongside movies, we’ll read three novels and other short stories that redeploy the genre’s conventions for new ends, some cultural criticism, and an historical overview. The six class hours each week will include one full-length screening (half of those films set in the contemporary West) and a number of excerpted sequences.


    Grading based on in-class presentations, two essays, and a final exam.


    All the Pretty Horses, Cormac McCarthy
    Frontiers: A Short History of the American West, Robert V. Hine & John Mack Faragher
    The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, Sherman Alexie
    Little Big Man, Thomas Berger
    The Sisters Brothers, Patrick deWitt
    and additional reading online.