Edited Volume on Western Film and Television Abstract Deadline 11/15/14

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Call for Papers


Eds. Sue Matheson and Andrew Patrick Nelson

We are currently soliciting abstracts of 100 words for essays to be included the first book to examine the richness and complexity of the film and television Western through its iconography and archetypes, foregrounding the significant contributions made to our understanding of America's narratives of land, nation and cultural identity by the recurrent symbols and artifacts of Hollywood's wild west.

To date, considerations of the visual conventions of the Western have focused almost exclusively on natural landscapes, like John Ford's famous use of Monument Valley, and the symbolic significance of the cowboy hero and the famous actors associated with these roles, including John Wayne and Clint Eastwood. Where, though, are the studies of the contributions of filmmakers other than Ford to the evolving "look" of the genre? Of Anthony Mann's rocky sierras? Howard Hawks's depopulated towns? Sam Peckinpah's impoverished borderlands? And where are the examinations of the countless other symbols and standards intrinsic to the genre and its narratives? There's the stagecoach, the saloon, the barbershop and the general store, each with a proprietor, employees and customers. What about firearms? How about cigarettes and the act of smoking? The significance of the costume as shorthand for character attributes? Even something as simple as facial hair has served, and continues to serve, as a powerful indication of shifting notions of verisimilitude. Over a century of invention, reinvention and reinterpretation, the Western's icons and archetypes have celebrated, affirmed, and deconstructed the American character, transmitting a complicated cultural coding about heroism and morality, the nature of capitalism and westward expansionism, technological progress and family life, assimilation and settlement, and masculinity and femininity.

We are interested in proposals that examine any aspect of the Western's conventional mise-en-scène, including but not limited to those named above. Proposals may address the genre-at-large; particular periods, cycles or series; the work of individual filmmakers, actors or other personnel; or any combination thereof.

Completed essays of approximately 5000 words in length will be due in September of 2015. This book is under contract with McFarland Press.

We are asking for proposals by November 15, 2014. Please feel free to contact us with any queries!

Sue Matheson, PhD
University College of the North

Andrew Patrick Nelson, PhD
Montana State University