In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Gender, Race, Culture, and the Mythic American Frontier
  • Kim Warren (bio)
Albert Hurtado . Intimate Frontiers: Sex, Gender, and Culture in Old California. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1999. xxix + 173 pp.; ill.; tables. ISBN 0-8263-1954-8 (pb).
Sheila McManus . The Line Which Separates: Race, Gender, and the Making of the Alberta-Montana Borderlands. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2005. xi + 236 pp. ISBN 0-8032-8308-3 (pb).
Quintard Taylor and Shirley Ann Wilson Moore , eds. African American Women Confront the West, 1600–2000. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2003. 390 pp.; ill. ISBN 0-8061-3524-7 (cl).
Glenda Riley . The Life and Legacy of Annie Oakley. 1994. Reprint. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2002. 272 pp.; ill. ISBN 0-8061-3506-9 (pb).

Frederick Jackson Turner's frontier thesis, which rested on heroic and mythic notions of individual, white, male conquest of western territories, is considered antiquated, if not incorrect.1 Frontier scholars, however, still cannot escape the impressions that Turner left on the intellectual landscape and have taken to challenging persistent myths about the frontier, particularly those about the American West. In the last three decades, historians have pushed the boundaries of frontier history to both include and bring to bear on the very definition of "frontier" different casts of characters, regions, and time periods. Historians of women and gender were and continue to be at the vanguard of this effort; they first published narratives about women in the American West in the mid-1970s, and in the 1980s they responded prolifically to the demand for women's inclusion in frontier narratives. In 1980, in "The Gentle Tamers Revisited," Joan Jensen and Darlis Miller noted the remarkable growth of western women's history.2 Five years later, Susan Armitage argued that there was still more work to be done, however. She noted the analytic promise of attending to the history of frontier women, stating that women's history is "exceptional because it raises more than the question of including neglected minority groups or neglected issues."3 It was not enough for Armitage that women be included in the history of the American West; charting their experiences, she argued, [End Page 234] with attention to gender as an analytic category, had the potential to challenge the assumptions of the frontier thesis. In 1988, Elizabeth Jameson added further complexity. Women were not only gendered subjects, she argued, but certain ethnic and racial identities also crucially shaped their frontier experiences and, indeed, the frontier itself. Jameson signaled to historians that the term "western women's history" was problematic, explaining that "[w]hat Anglos called the 'West' was, after all, simply home for American Indians, the 'East' for Asians, the 'South' for Canadians, and 'El Norte' or northwestern Mexico for Mexicans and Spanish-Mexicans."4 And Armitage and Jameson's edited volume, The Women's West, addressed these intersections of gender, ethnicity, and race in the American West.5 In the late 1980s and 1990s, such historians as Vicki Ruiz, Sarah Deutsch, and Peggy Pascoe responded to Armitage's and Jameson's interventions by both placing women at the center of frontier and western history and demonstrating the inextricability of gender, class, and race in experiences of the frontier in their monographs.6 In 1997, Jameson and Armitage again highlighted the inseparable connections among race, class, and culture in women's western history in their edited volume, Writing the Range: Race, Class, and Culture in the Women's West.7

Expanding the work of women's historians in the 1990s, Albert Hurtado, Sheila McManus, Quintard Taylor and Shirley Ann Wilson Moore, and Glenda Riley place women at the center of their studies and weave analyses sensitive to the complexities of gender, race, and class. Taken together, their four books mark a demonstrable shift away from Turner's notion of the frontier as geographically specific, Anglo-American, masculine, westward moving, and individualist. The frontier is more than that, these historians successfully argue: it is a space where peoples, cultures, ideals, and economies meet and clash. No longer confined to a geographical location, the frontier is the kind of "middle ground" that Richard White has defined in his influential study...