HS The Myth of the American West in US Culture



Time and place

  • Di 14:15-15:45, .ics

Zugehörigkeit zu den Modulen:

  • BA English and American Studies: Hauptmodul A. (Zulassungsvoraussetzung: Zwischenmodul II) 

  • Lehramt Englisch an Gymnasien (neu): Hauptmodul L-GYM Literature (Zulassungsvoraussetzung: Zwischenmodul Literature) 

  • MA North American Studies: Culture and Literature (4) Aufbaumodul Cultural Studies (7) Vertiefungsmodul Cultural Studies 

  • MA The Americas / Las Américas: Modul 3b,4

  • MA English Studies: "Freie Ergänzungsstudien/Wild Card": Wie Aufbaumodul, mit begleitendem Kurs

Für die BA-Studierenden ist an diesen Kurs eine Independent Study Group angeschlossen.


The myth of the American West figures prominently in hegemonic narratives of US nation building and constructions of Americanness, in which terms such as pioneer, trailblazer, and frontier abound. In the cultural imaginary of the U.S. the West has been variously conceptualized as virgin land, open space, safety valve, wilderness (to be turned into a garden), or as the birthplace of a specifically American character. From an indigenous perspective, however, the West and the westward expansion refer to a violent history of dispossession, attempted genocide, and forced assimilation. In this seminar we will analyze various representations of the West and its multiethnic populace in American literature and popular culture since the 18th century. In order to develop appropriate analytical tools, we will discuss concepts such as settler colonialism, othering, wilderness, savagism, frontier, manifest destiny, ethnocide, rugged masculinity, and going native. Case studies include autobiographical texts, (dime) novels, graphic novels, paintings, photography, performances, popular music, TV series, and film (classical and revisionist).

Additional information

Expected participants: 15