Reimagining the Modern American West: A Century of Fiction, History, and Art

Richard W. Etulain, Author
Richard W. Etulain, Author University of Arizona Press $19.95 (241p) ISBN 978-0-8165-1683-4
Reviewed on: 09/02/1996
Release date: 09/01/1996
Hardcover - 241 pages - 978-0-8165-1133-4
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How has the West come to be realized in the American consciousness? This is the question Etulain answers in his often pedantic critical analysis. He identifies three movements among historians, novelists and painters of the last century that have formed our collective vision of the West: the ""frontier"" school (followers of Frederick Jackson Turner); the ""regionalists"" (those anxious to evoke a sense of place); and the ""postregionalists"" (emphasizing gender, ethnic and environmental themes). These three divisions of thought have shaped the myths of the West from a rough-and-tumble (and male dominated) ""Wild West"" to the multicultural, urbanized, modern West of today. The author puts figures like Steinbeck and O'Keeffe into the context of the ideologies of their time. Etulain has written and edited many books on the region, and this well-researched volume clearly marks him as something of an authority in the field of Western historiography. But his attempt to make this analysis accessible to the general reader is not entirely successful. His prose is clotted by convoluted sentences and the kind of academic jargon that will make some readers' skin crawl Illustrated. (Oct.)
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