Cover

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Frontmatter

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Contents

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p. vii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

Lawrence Buell, first and foremost. My debt to Larry is a deep and wide-ranging one. He guided early drafts of this project, offering tireless support, insightful critiques, and mentorly attention that immeasurably improved my work. He is for me the model of intellectual vigor and professional integrity, and I extend to him my warmest appreciation. I offer my deepest ...

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Introduction: The Legacy of Authenticity

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pp. 1-18

In Sam Shepard's play True West two brothers fight it out to see who can sell a screenplay about the West to a Hollywood producer. The younger brother, Austin, an Ivy League graduate and writer, has been staying at their mother's house outside Los Angeles and working on a romance. His brother Lee, a petty thief and aggressive drunk who has been living in the desert, ...

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1. Truth or Consequences: Western Literature in the 1830s

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pp. 19-47

In his introduction to Sketches of History, Life, and Manners in the West (1834) James Hall reflected at length on the troubled condition of writing in the American West. Hall, an influential Cincinnati lawyer, editor, and author, remarked that "few of the writers who have treated of the western country, rank above mediocrity; and little of all that has been written on this subject ...

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2. Fact and Fiction: Canonical Simulations

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pp. 48-77

In reestablishing the forgotten history of western authorship in the 1830s, I have attempted to identify a significant component of western literature's troubled canonical beginnings. By revisiting the ultimately self-erasing forms of authorial self-fashionings, we can understand, at least in part, why western literature failed to establish a viable canonical tradition. But this ...

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3. Authentic Reproduction: The Picturesque Joaquin Miller

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pp. 91-108

Joaquin Miller, now largely forgotten, is arguably the central figure in the early history of western American authorship and a connecting link between the so-called San Francisco circle of the 1860s and the flowering of western realism toward the century's end. Miller emerged—exploded, rather—during the early 1870s, a time when western literature was still ...

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4. The Trap of Authenticity: Frank Norris and Western Authorship

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pp. 109-144

In the autumn of 2001 the long-circulating rumors were finally confirmed as true: Thomas Eakins had cheated. Or so some felt. It turned out that Eakins, the nineteenth-century artist widely considered one of America's foremost realists, did not paint exclusively from inspired vision or memory but, at times, from projected photographs. He traced much of his art onto ...

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5. Coming Out of the Country: Environmental Constructivism in Western Nature Writing

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pp. 145-185

In his essay "The Writer as Alaskan: Beginnings and Reflections" poet John Haines considers the relationship between western place and identity. He begins: "As a poet I was born in a particular place, a hillside overlooking the Tanana River in central Alaska."1 Haines is not attempting to reveal a metaphorical rite of passage or to locate the site of a writerly ...

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6. Inside Out in the Postmodern West

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pp. 186-240

In October 2000 the Western Literature Association held the banquet for its annual conference at the National Cowboy Museum and Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.1 It is a marvelous place. The outside looks like a vaguely faded sports complex surrounded by a massive parking lot (picture a Jai Alai fronton from the 1970s), but the inside is spacious, bright, ...

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Epilogue: Territorial Expansion

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pp. 241-250

It seems only commonsense that literature emerges from real-world conditions and produces real-world effects. As a professor of American Studies, I encourage the examination of our national literature as an integral force in American cultural history. But in Western Studies we take this connection too far, insisting that literary works mimetically reflect the region's history ...

Notes

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pp. 251-290

Index

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pp. 291-297