ENGL5146Bloodshed and Elbow Room in the Wild West3 ch (3C) [W]

Using both fiction and nonfiction, this seminar will examine the forces involved in the violent settling of western North America, with particular attention given to the odd echoes and relationships between historical texts about the West and subsequent novels and stories, some of which are not overtly about the settling of the West, but have pivotal scenes hidden within that are informed by historical events decades or centuries before.

The borders between Mexico and the United States and Canada and the separation of local histories will come under scrutiny, as will issues to do with the myth of “virgin” wilderness, manifest destiny, frontiers and border crossing, cultural collisions, mixed blood, colonialism, pioneering, racism, the shifting of native territories and claims, the military and government, the law (or lack thereof), ownership, good intentions, naiveté, ego, commerce, alcohol, ghost writing, maimed rites, malaise, murder, massacres, genocide, and black humour.


Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian (or The Evening Redness in the West)
Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House on the Prairie
Evan S Connell, Son of the Morning Star
Dee Brown, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee
James Welch, Winter in the Blood
Thomas King, “Borders”
Margaret Laurence, “The Loons”