The Western, in both literature and film, has been a key genre through which authors, scholars, artists, and filmmakers have established standards of American masculinity and male identity. The many issues that the Western has addressed— nationalism, honor, family, politics, the environment, capitalism—all intersect with masculinity. A variety of Westerns have appeared since the late nineteenth century, the most common being the “Indian” Western and the “gunfighter” Western. In all of the variations of this genre, however, the theme of manliness remains central.

Westerns in Literature

Westerns, and the concepts of masculinity they promote, trace their origins to the myth of the American frontier. This myth originated in New England in the 1680s in the aftermath of King Phillips War, which saw the appearance of captive narratives ...

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