The Rhizomatic West


The Rhizomatic West

Representing the American West in a Transnational, Global, Media Age

Neil Campbell

Postwestern Horizons Series

392 pages
14 photographs, index


December 2011


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eBook (PDF)
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July 2008


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About the Book

Is the American West in Sergio Leone’s “spaghetti westerns” the same American West we find in Douglas Coupland’s Generation X? In Jim Jarmusch’s movies? In Calexico’s music? Or is the American West, as this book tells us, a constantly moving, mutating idea within a complex global culture? And what, precisely (or better yet, imprecisely) does it mean?
Using Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s concept of the rhizome, Neil Campbell shows how the West (or west-ness) continually breaks away from a mainstream notion of American “rootedness” and renews and transforms itself in various cultural forms. A region long traversed by various transient peoples (from tribes and conquerors to immigrants, traders, and trappers), the West reflects a mythic quest for settlement, permanence, and synthesis—even notions of a national or global identity—at odds with its rootless history, culture, and nature. Crossing the concept of “roots” with “routes,” this book shows how notions of the West—in representations ranging from literature and film to photography, music, and architectural theory—give expression to ideas about identity, nationhood, and belonging in a world increasingly defined by movement across time and borders. The Rhizomatic West offers a new vision of the American West as a hybrid, performative space, a staging place for myriad intersecting and constantly changing identities.

Author Bio

Neil Campbell is a professor of American studies at the University of Derby. He is the coeditor of Issues in Americanisation and Culture and author of The Cultures of the American New West.

Table of Contents



Introduction: Theorizing the Rhizomatic West

1. Towards an Expanded Critical Regionalism

2. Feasts of Wire: Rubén Martinez and the transfrontera contact zone

3. Welcome to Westworld: Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West

4. "The Western in quotes": Generic Variations

5. Dialogical Landscapes: "Outsider" Photography of the West

6. Strata and Routes: Living on Reservation X

7. Postwestern Generations?: Douglas Coupland’s “plastic radiant way” 

Conclusion: On "The Crystal Frontier"


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