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"[L]et me go to hell by my own route": Understanding the American West (History, Culture, Myths)-ZIP

Informacje ogólne

Kod przedmiotu: 4219-SD0048 Kod Erasmus / ISCED: 08.9 / (0229) Nauki humanistyczne (inne)
Nazwa przedmiotu: "[L]et me go to hell by my own route": Understanding the American West (History, Culture, Myths)-ZIP
Jednostka: Ośrodek Studiów Amerykańskich
Grupy: Kursy do wyboru dla studiów stacjonarnych I stopnia
Przedmioty na stacjonarnych studiach I stopnia
Przedmioty na stacjonarnych studiach I stopnia - 1 rok
Zajęcia do wyboru - nauki humanistyczne - studia BA
Punkty ECTS i inne: (brak)
zobacz reguły punktacji
Język prowadzenia: angielski
Rodzaj przedmiotu:


Skrócony opis:

Zajęcia oferowane w Programie zintegrowanych działań na rzecz rozwoju Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego, współfinansowanym ze środków Europejskiego Funduszu Społecznego w ramach PO WER, ścieżka 3.5

It is rather difficult to understand American culture and identity without critically appraising and appreciating the American West and the mythological power it has held over the imagination and self-perception of the American people. Historian Richard White reminds us: “When Americans tell stories about themselves, they set those stories in the West. American heroes are Western heroes, and when you begin to think of the quintessential American characters, they are always some place over the horizon.” (2001) It is the goal of this course to assert and enhance students’ understanding of the American West as a space in geography, history, and, most importantly, as a quintessential locus in the imagination of the American national consciousness.

Pełny opis:

A large portion of the geographic space commonly referred to as the “American West” has played a significant role in the self-affirming identity and mythos of one nation state on the North American continent—the United States. Any meaningful comprehension of the American West must, according to Wallace Stegner, start with a keen “sense of place,” which consequently leads to a re-examination and problematization of borders, especially national borders, and other concepts of boundaries. While firmly anchored in Western places, this course will introduce students to a different kind of history of a region that engenders grossly distorted/limited albeit persistent associations with people all over the globe. The “Wild West” imaginary holds considerable sway even though it represents but a relatively small part of the North American West’s history.

Starting with different historiographically driven theoretical conceptions of the North American West—the frontier, the West as process, the regional West, the rhizomatic West (Campbell 2008)—this class will access the history of the North American West through primary documents and oral histories that make porous national borders and provide access to the lifeworlds of the diverse peoples who have called this continental region their home.

Topic areas include but are not limited to:

* Locating the West: Where/when/who was the West? What does the West mean?

* The West as a space in geography, history and the imagination

* Frontier(s) vs. borderlands, the West as process vs. place

* The American West in popular culture and film (a survey)

* The Western as a genre: Origins, the ‘Western Code’, and its legacy

* Native American West(s) & Imperial/European West(s)

* Frontiers of inclusion and frontiers of exclusion

* Civilization vs. wilderness, the frontier as master narrative & its hero archetypes

* The American nation, the Trans-Mississippi West and Manifest Destiny

* Explorers, mountain men, Mormons, Exodusters, outlaws and lawmen, etc.

*The Fur Trade, ‘Don’t mess with Texas!’, gold rushes, land rushes, Indian Wars, etc.

* The Oregon Trail, westward migration, the Transcontinental Railroad, women and homesteading

* Literary & visual romanticism, transcendentalism, realism, naturalism

* The mythos of the West and its impact on the ecosystem: Preservationism vs. Conservationism, and National Parks

* Unmasking the myth: The Corporate/Urban West, the real cultural roots of American Cowboys, Cowboys vs. Cattlemen, etc.


Aquila, Richard. ed. 1998. Wanted Dead or Alive: The American West in Popular Culture. Champaign: University of Illinois Press.

Aron, Stephen. 2014. American West: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford UP.

Bakken, Gorden Morris. 2011. The World of the American West. New York: Routledge.

Campbell, Neil. 2008. The Rhizomatic West: Representing the American West in a Transnational, Global, Media Age. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

Deverell, William. ed. 2004. A Companion to the American West. Oxford: Blackwell.

Finkel, Alvin, Sarah Carter and Peter Fortna. 2010. The West and Beyond: New Perspectives on an Imagined Region. Edmonton: Athabasca University Press.

Lahti, Janne. 2018. The American West and the World: Transnational and Comparative Perspectives. London: Routledge.

Pierce, Jason E. Making the White Man’s West: Whiteness and the Creation of the American West. Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 2016.

Shally-Jensen, Michael. ed. 2014. Defining Documents in American History: The American West (1836-1900). Amenia, NY: Grey House Publishing.

Walsh, Margaret. 2005. The American West: Visions and Revisions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

White, Richard. 1991. “It’s your misfortune and none of my own”: A New History of the American West. Norman: Univ. of Oklahoma Press.

Witschi, Nicolas. ed. 2011. A Companion to the Literature and Culture of the American West. Chichester: Wiley.

Efekty uczenia się:

Students will emerge from the class having (co)developed a firm understanding of the historical, political, and economic processes that have undergirded the North American West as a hemispherically and globally (inter)connected place. In tackling a mix of primary sources (e.g. maps, journals, overland diaries, treatises, survey reports, visual art, life writing, policy documents, court rulings, etc.), students will be challenged to (re)develop, (re)evaluate, and subsequently practice competences needed to maintain high levels of both historical as well as historiographic literacy.

Metody i kryteria oceniania:

Be prepared to critically formulate, present & discuss your own (!) thoughts on the new and enticing horizons you will encounter by engaging with the many facets of the American West since a large part of this class will depend on your concerted input. This class is an interactive and peer-created (!) course and thus students will be expected to engage in self-directed research and to take responsibility for guiding their peers through textual ‘episodes’. All of the material you will need to get you started will be provided in digital form.


1) Regular attendance, participation, weekly mini-readings (20%)

2) Text-in-Context expert talk (30%)


3) (Con)textual primer & annotated bibliography as part of a peer-generated class companion (20%)

4) A thesis-driven final project (30%) [format to be announced]

Przedmiot nie jest oferowany w żadnym z aktualnych cykli dydaktycznych.
Opisy przedmiotów w USOS i USOSweb są chronione prawem autorskim.
Właścicielem praw autorskich jest Uniwersytet Warszawski.