Unhomely Wests


Unhomely Wests

Essays from A to Z

Stephen Tatum

Postwestern Horizons Series

376 pages


July 2024


$35.00 Add to Cart

July 2024


$99.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

In Unhomely Wests Stephen Tatum presents twenty-six essays exploring selected literary, visual art, cinematic, and musical representations of homelessness as a theme, a trope, an affliction, a threat, and a condition of alienation in the late modern and postmodern American West. Arranged in alphabetical order, from “Alphabet/Abecedario” to “Zombieland,” Tatum’s essays aim to discover how his eclectic selection of texts both produce uncanny literary effects and bear witness to the entangled capitalist, geopolitical, and ecological crises that shape our external world and our “unhomely” textual worlds.

In keeping with the etymological and conceptual linkage between the unhomely and the uncanny, Tatum’s critical meditations focus on both uncanny textual architectures and architecturally unhomely junkspaces of abandonment and ruin, of corporeal displacement, and of cognitive or affective disorientation. And since an emergent unhomely structure of feeling exposes how our lived present is saturated with history’s apparitional revenants, this collection of essays—comprising a new lexicon of unhomely Wests—conveys a hauntology underwritten by spectrality as a theme, a trope, an image. Committed to revising the conventional academic text, Unhomely Wests exemplifies Roland Barthes’s directive that we consider the alphabetic order as a call to “Cut! Resume the story in another way!

Author Bio

Stephen Tatum is professor emeritus of English at the University of Utah and the author and editor of several books, including Morta Las Vegas: “CSI” and the Problem of the West (Nebraska, 2017) with Nathaniel Lewis; In the Remington Moment (Nebraska, 2010); and Reading “The Virginian” in the New West (Nebraska, 2003) with Melody Graulich.


Unhomely Wests offers scholars and public intellectuals an important new means for approaching critical regional studies. In this engaging and insightful work, Stephen Tatum provides an innovative model for assessing the complexities of life under ecologically destructive and dehumanizing conditions that are shaping the region today.”—Susan Kollin, author of Captivating Westerns: The Middle East in the American West

“Given that both its content and its form can help us think more expansively about the U.S. West and about the concepts of homelessness and unhomeliness that sit at the center of this study, Unhomely Wests is an important and necessary book. Its approach and structure are unique and compelling, as is its centering of certain key concepts.”—Sylvan Goldberg, professor of English at Colorado College

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
About this book
An alphabet of unhomely wests
Alphabet/Abecedario, una ofrenda
Boredoms, generational and otherwise
Cryptography, or the architectonics of the crypt
Diapers and loading docks
Exposure, a poetics of
Freeways and highways, a literary collision
Graves and gravestones
Hotel life
Idyll of the idle
Junkspaces, outtakes from an unhomely archive
Kotex, Keds, ketchup, and dead kids
Lipstick traces
Motel noir
Noir motel
Oil rich, core samples from a personal ledger
Queues for the gallows, sing the praises of the hallowed
Rivers, all my tears like water flown
Scene of the crime
Television, the slow parade of fears
Urbicide, what the master plan was
Vagabondage, all this venturing in the slipstream
X-ray, let us talk crossly now
Yellow ribbons, yellow light

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