Department of English

"Frontier Club Acts: Popular Westerns and Federal Policies, 1887-1924."

Tue, April 9, 2013 | PAR 208

4:30 PM

Free and open to the public.  Christine Bold talk, "Frontier Club Acts: Popular Westerns and Federal Policies, 1887-1924" Tuesday April 9, 2013 at 4:30 pm in PAR 208.

The TSLL Guest Lecture on April 9th will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first publication of the journal that would become Texas Studies in Literature and Language.  Now a quarterly and one of the most eminent in the general field of literary studies, TSLL has been published for 55 continuous years by The University of Texas Press.

 About Christine Bold and her work

Our guest speaker, Christine Bold, is a member of the TSLL Editorial Advisory Board. She is Professor of English at the University of Guelph. Her previous books include U.S. Popular Print Culture, 1860-1920; Selling the Wild West: Popular Western Fiction, 1860-1960; Writers, Plumbers, and Anarchists: The WPA Writers' Project in Massachusetts; and The WPA Guides: Mapping America.

Her newest book, available just this month from Oxford University Press, is The Frontier Club: Popular Westerns and Cultural Power 1880-1924.  Her talk will be drawn from this book.  A brief description of the book follows:

            From Hollywood films to novels by Louis L'Amour and television series like Gunsmoke and Deadwood, the Wild West has exerted a powerful hold on the cultural imagination of the United States. Beginning with Theodore Roosevelt's founding of the Boone and Crockett Club in 1887, Christine Bold traces the origins and evolution of the western genre, revealing how a group of prominent eastern aristocrats-a cadre she terms "the frontier club" -created and propagated the myth of the Wild West to advance their own self-interest as well as larger systems of privilege and exclusion.

           Mining institutional archives, personal papers, novels, and films, The Frontier Club excavates the hidden social, political, and financial interests behind the making of the modern western. It re-reads frontier-club fiction, most notably Owen Wister's bestseller The Virginian, in relation to federal policies and cultural spaces (from exclusive gentlemen's clubs to national parks to zoos); it casts new light on key clubmen, both the famous and the forgotten-figures such as Roosevelt, George Bird Grinnell, Silas Weir Mitchell, Henry Cabot Lodge, and Frederic Remington-while recovering the women on whom these men depended and without whom this version of the popular West would not exist; and it considers the costs of the frontier-club formula, in terms of its impact on Indigenous peoples and its marginalization of other popular voices, including western writings by African Americans, women, and working-class white men.

          An engaging cultural history that covers print culture, big-game hunting, politics, immigration, Jim Crow segregation, and environmental conservation at the turn of the twentieth century, The Frontier Club provides a welcome new perspective on the enduring American myth of the Wild West.


  • Delineates the western's network of influence in more detail, depth, and breadth than any previous study
  • Reveals, for the first time, the key contributions of upper-class women-the mothers, wives, daughters, and mentors of the frontier clubmen-in making the modern western
  • Brings to light buried archival materials to show the centrality of African Americans in the making of the white western.

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