Reading "The Virginian" in the New West


Reading "The Virginian" in the New West

Edited by Melody Graulich and Stephen Tatum

300 pages


March 2003


$30.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

Although the origins of the western are as old as colonial westward expansion, it was Owen Wister’s novel The Virginian, published in 1902, that established most of the now-familiar conventions of the genre. On the heels of the classic western’s centennial, this collection of essays both re-examines the text of The Virginian and uses Wister’s novel as a lens for studying what the next century of western writing and reading will bring. The contributors address Wister’s life and travels, the novel’s influence on and handling of gender and race issues, and its illustrations and various retellings on stage, film, and television as points of departure for speculations about the “new West”—as indeed Wister himself does at the end of the novel.
The contributors reconsider the novel’s textual complexity and investigate The Virginian's role in American literary and cultural history. Together their essays represent a new western literary studies, comparable to the new western history.

Author Bio

Melody Graulich is a professor of English at Utah State University and the editor of Western American Literature. She won the 2014 Mary C. Turpie Award from the American Studies Association.
Stephen Tatum teaches in the Department of English at the University of Utah and is the author of Inventing Billy the Kid: Visions of the Outlaw in America, 1881–1981 and Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses: A Reader’s Guide.


"Know this . . . Anyone who carefully considers these essays will never read, teach, or think the same about Owen Wister's The Virginian"—Richard W. Etulain, Western Historical Quarterly

“What has Owen Wister’s The Virginian (1902) have to say to the twenty-first century? A great deal, on the evidence of this sprightly, intensely informed, and thought-provoking collection. . . . This volume makes a major contribution to western American studies, not just for what it says about one novel but for how it thinks about relationships among popular writing, cultural power, and critical debate.”—Christine Bold, Western American Literature

“Students of film will surely appreciate Richard Hutson’s thoughtful survey of several early screen adaptations of the novel; history buffs will be edified by Gary Scharnhorst’s commentary on The Virginian and the Pullman Strike of 1894 . . . and comparativeists will find much to interest them in Zeese Papanikolas’s chapter on the ‘Cowboy and the Gaucho’. . . . Tatum’s afterward, with its moving evocation of the novel’s yearning after ‘a mythos of reciprocity and exchange, of communion,’ is yet another element in the overall success of this valuable collection. Reading “The Virginian” in the New West will likely set the critical agenda in Wister studies for many years to come.”—Great Plains Quarterly

“Given the importance of the West in the American cultural imaginary, this volume is more than just a centennial collection of excellent new essays. It is also a timely way of thinking about American ideology and identity as it is currently being performed on the world stage. Read it and smile!”—Helen M. Dennis, American Studies

Also of Interest