Late Westerns

Late Westerns

The Persistence of a Genre

Postwestern Horizons Series

342 pages
22 photographs, index

eBook (PDF)

December 2018

978-1-4962-1071-5

$55.00 Add to Cart
Hardcover

December 2018

978-1-4962-0196-6

$55.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)

December 2018

978-1-4962-1069-2

$55.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

For more than a century the cinematic Western has been America’s most familiar genre, always teetering on the verge of exhaustion and yet regularly revived in new forms. Why does this outmoded vehicle—with the most narrowly based historical setting of any popular genre—maintain its appeal? In Late Westerns Lee Clark Mitchell takes a position against those critics looking to attach “post” to the all-too-familiar genre. For though the frontier disappeared long ago, though men on horseback have become commonplace, and though films of all sorts have always, necessarily, defied generic patterns, the Western continues to enthrall audiences. It does so by engaging narrative expectations stamped on our collective consciousness so firmly as to integrate materials that might not seem obviously “Western” at all.

Through plot cues, narrative reminders, and even cinematic frameworks, recent films shape interpretive understanding by triggering a long-standing familiarity audiences have with the genre. Mitchell’s critical analysis reveals how these films engage a thematic and cinematic border-crossing in which their formal innovations and odd plots succeed deconstructively, encouraging by allusion, implication, and citation the evocation of generic meaning from ingredients that otherwise might be interpreted quite differently. Applying genre theory with close cinematic readings, Mitchell posits that the Western has essentially been “post” all along.
 

Author Bio

Lee Clark Mitchell is the Holmes Professor of Belles-Lettres and a professor of English at Princeton University. He is the author of Mere Reading: The Poetics of Wonder in Modern American NovelsWesterns: Making the Man in Fiction and Film; and Determined Fictions: American Literary Naturalism, among other books.
 
 
 
 

Praise

Late Westerns offers a helpful and timely contribution to an important and growing area in the field of Western film studies, one anchored in the broader field of genre studies. All of the chapters are expertly written in a confident and highly readable style and, furthermore, indicate the work of a scholar completely in charge of his subject matter.”—Matthew Carter, senior lecturer in film at Manchester Metropolitan University and author of Myth of the Western: New Perspectives on Hollywood’s Frontier Narrative