Arizona Immigration Law Blocked

From the Baltimore Sun (click on link to view the entire article):
<div>Reporting from Phoenix and Tucson —

A federal judge on Wednesday blocked most of a controversial Arizona immigration law just hours before it was to take effect, handing the Obama administration a win in the first stage of a legal battle expected to end up in the U.S. Supreme Court.

U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton in Phoenix issued a temporary injunction against parts of the law that would require police to determine the status of people they lawfully stopped and suspected were in the country illegally.

Bolton also forbade Arizona from making it a state crime to not carry immigration documents, and struck down two other provisions as an unconstitutional attempt by Arizona to undermine the federal government’s efforts to enforce immigration policy.

See earlier post for WLA Resolution on the Arizona Immigration Bill

Oscar Micheaux in Rapid City Journal

There’s an interesting article on pioneer filmmaker Oscar Micheaux in the Rapid City Journal this week. There’s also an accompaning photo of and interview with Jerry Wilske, director of the Oscar Micheaux Center in Gregory, South Dakota, and who spoke on Oscar Micheaux at the 2009 Western Literature Association conference.

West River Story: South Dakota Celebrates Black Film Pioneer by Steve Miller

Troy Sundquist and I tramped through knee-high grass to get to the old homestead site, where a ramshackle cabin and barn remain.

It is hard to fathom that it was here, in south-central South Dakota, that a young black farmer began a journey that would help pave the way for future African-American film stars and producers such as Paul Robeson, Georg Stanford Brown, James Earl Jones and Spike Lee. . . . [click on link for continuation of the article]

The Lusty Men (1952): Trailer

Video of The Lusty Men (1952), discussed in Neil Campbell’s post below, is difficult to come by. I’ve located a couple of clips on the Turner Classic Movies website. Just click on the links below to go the clips.

The opening scene of The Lusty Men is available as a clip on TCM:

If the link doesn’t work, try copying the link and pasting in your browser.

The Lusty Men trailer

Strong Back and a Weak Mind (clip from the film)

The Lusty Men, Nicholas Ray (1952)

I’ve been watching and writing about a great ‘lost’ film of late; Nick Ray’s The Lusty men:
In a scene in Wim Wenders’ film Lightning Over Water (1980) at a lecture held at Vassar College, the director shows a lengthy sequence from Nicholas Ray’s 1952 film The Lusty Men. In answering questions that followed, Wenders reports Ray’s remarks as follows:

In any case, this film isn’t a Western. It’s really about people who want nothing more than a home of their own. That was actually the great American dream at the time, and all the statistical questionnaires that ask what Americans aim for, 90 per cent always gave the answer: ‘Owning a home of my own.’ And that’s what the film’s about. (OF, 119)

Ray’s point is an interesting one, since The Lusty Men isn’t a Western in any conventional sense; it’s a post-Western as I would define it, and a very good early example of this type of modern film of the New West. As Ray’s comments helpfully go on to explain, one aspect of his definition that marks it off as separate from a Western, is its engagement with contemporary social, economic and political changes. In the immediate post-war America, the time when the film is set and made, the nation sought stability and consensus, a renewal of family values, becoming epitomised in the suburban dream of owning your own home. As Ray suggests, this has been an abiding dream, and one which, I would add, has always also had a special resonance in the West where settlement and home-building was a mark of achievement and proof of the conquest of land and nature. Yet as a contrary pull the West itself seemed to demand a type of wild, rugged individualism. What The Lusty Men explores are the different ways in which concepts of home appeal to us, through memory and nostalgia as well as the desire to fix roots in a particular time and place; as places to run from as well as to.

In the opening scenes of the film – a section of which Wenders projects at the Vassar lecture in Lightning over Water – Jeff McCloud enacts a powerful journey within which, as Wenders writes, “every shot gradually becomes a sign in some sort of runic script, that you slowly see and hear”. (OF, 122) He calls Ray’s work here a “song” with its visual notes and melodies, pauses and refrains working on screen in one of the most extraordinary sequences in film history, and most certainly, for me, in establishing the post-Western. This is perhaps part of what Jacques Rivette was hinting at in his famous review of the film, “On Imagination” in Cahiers du Cinema in 1953, when he wrote of Ray’s “certain dilation of expressive detail, which ceases to be detail so that it may become part of the plot” found in “dramatic close-ups” and a “breadth of modern gesture” contributing to “an anxiety about life, a perpetual disquiet” often capturing “the feverish and impermanent” even in the “most tranquil of moments”. (in Hiller 104-5)

In the opening scenes, Ray begins, under the titles, with the razzamatazz and spectacle of the rodeo parade; with bunting, patriotic bands, Indians, cowboys, wagons and horses that invite us as an audience into the coming attraction, advertised on a screen-filling billboard as “The Wildest Show on Earth”. Immediately the film signals one of its key themes, the transformation of the West into performance and spectacle, into a perpetually self-fulfilling narrative of mythic proportions, a “wild show” acting out in the rodeo ring its stories of conquest, masculinity, and control. A counter-balance of violence emerges through the savage brahma bull ride that almost cripples Jeff McCloud, shot in naturalist style with blurred shots and point-of-view camera angles suggesting the residual brutality of the event. This is to be Jeff’s last ride, forcing him to leave the rodeo life. As he limps from the rodeo the announcer’s voice describes the next contestant quickly despatched by a bull called “Round-trip”: “He must have bought a one-way ticket”. As the camera cuts to the end of the rodeo, after the excitement of the crowd, we focus on Jeff alone, another man with a one-way ticket, walking in an extraordinary shot across the now desolate, windswept, shadowy rodeo grounds surrounded only by choking dust and swirling litter, looking forlorn like just another piece of trash abandoned after the event. The power of this shot conveys this absolute sense of after-ness, with McCloud a man out of time, resembling photographs from the Farm Security Administration by Arthur Rothstein, John Vachon or Dorothea Lange, barely holding on to the fragments of his life in the Old West. With documentary precision and a wonderful slowness, both qualities admired remember by Wenders, McCloud stands in-between that older West of certainty and masculine order and the challenges of the emerging contingent world full of the “anxiety about life” and “perpetual disquiet” that Rivette sensed in the film. As the sequence ends the camera has him leave via a gate over which is prominently hung the sign “Stock Exit”. McCloud is now damaged, limping “stock” corralled by his life in the rodeo, carrying his entire possessions in a small duffle bag over his shoulder, and with nothing else to show for his twenty years of wandering the West. Suddenly from the classical action of the rodeo with its vibrant action conveyed by dazzling camera work and almost documentary concern for detail, Ray shifts the rhythm of the film, making the audience feel the actual duration of time passing, measured in ponderous and awkward gait of McCloud as he struggles against the wind to the exit point. No past, no present, no future, he is a broken figure on the edge of a changing world he barely comprehends.

This is one of the great unseen films of the modern West – rapidly taking on great significance in my new book on the post-Western.

Has anyone seen this film?????

Old West New (CFP)

Old West New 9/15/2010

full name / name of organization:
Colin Irvine
contact email:

The editor of 30-40 Years West of Here: Stories from the Sub-Rural West invites contributions for a collection of creative nonfiction essays that explores the implications of living in that often overlooked space/time specific to the West of the 60s, 70s, and early 80s. Partly the result of demographic patterns tied to economic booms and busts, these oddly anachronistic and often isolated neighborhoods sprung up in areas somewhat removed from the nearest towns and adjacent to and/or surrounded by woods, farms, foothills, rivers, and streams. Not part of the Old West or the New, this time/space presented those who lived, worked and played in those eras/areas of the sub-rural West with historically unique and significant experiences.

To be sure, vestiges of this particular “West” remain visible—though somewhat hidden in many cases—in cities such as Salt Lake, Boise, Boulder, Spokane, Yakima, Denver, Reno, Rapid City, and Bozeman (and, some would suggest, the formerly sub-rural suburbs of Midwestern cities such as Minneapolis and St. Paul). Where new, carefully planned suburbs packed with earth-tone houses and manicured lawns have filled in the open areas that once separated the relatively small, scattered neighborhoods and isolated, single streets, one can still find split-level houses, half-acre yards, solitary horses, and the inevitable detritus that accrues over time in big yards near small garages.

Eliding categories such as “Old West” and “New West,” these “neighborhood” are seldom studied critically or recaptured creatively, which is where you come in. This proposed collection calls for essays from various critical and creative vantage points that return readers to this time/space and thus shed light on its lasting significance.

Essays may consider and explore, but need not be limited to, these topics:

• The mix of old and new, urban and rural/wild
• Sports and the outdoors
• Childhood/education (broadly understood)
• The ideological and/or political repercussions of living there and then
• Stories comparing today’s suburbs with yesterday’s sub-rural subdivisions
• The romantic, mythic Old West and its role in this time/space
• The material culture specific to this West
• This time/space and how it nurtured risk-taking and cultivated adventure seeking
• Architecture and landscaping of this era/area
• Community then, community now
• How these 60s, 70’s, and early 80s houses and neighborhoods seem to co-exist with their contemporary surroundings
• The implications of the subsequent “development”—of the transformation to the New West—on this other, over-looked West
• How living in neighborhoods connected to cities by highways and half-formed zoning plans shaped those who, in the words of Wallace Stegner in Wolf Willow, were imprinted by this place/experience

If you are interested, please send a 250-300 word abstract to Colin Irvine at by September 15, 2010. In the subject line, please write “Old West New West.”

CFP: “Oil Culture” (Journal of American Studies)

Call for Paper Proposals: “Oil Culture,” special issue under
consideration with the Journal of American Studies

Guest Editors:

Ross Barrett, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Daniel Worden, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs

Petroleum has long been recognized to be a dangerously volatile
commodity whose illuminative and propulsive capacities are inseparable
from its destructive potential.  This catastrophic power has been
reaffirmed by the succession of environmental disasters that have
accompanied the global expansion of oil extraction–a series of
ecological tragedies culminating in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon
blowout–and the array of social antagonisms, global political
conflicts, and chaotic economic cycles that have developed around the
industry since its beginnings. Despite its disastrous implications,
however, oil came to be embraced over the course of the nineteenth and
twentieth centuries as an unassailable “fact” of everyday American
experience, a core issue of national political platforms, and a reliable
pillar of industrial and financial capitalism in the U.S.  While much
work has been done to track the material and political processes that
made the dominance of oil capitalism possible, relatively little
scholarship has addressed the rise of oil as a cultural problem.

For this special issue, we seek essays that explore the wide field of
“oil culture” that has emerged around the American petroleum industry in
the 150 years since its inception in northwestern Pennsylvania.  More
specifically, we are looking for articles that examine how painting,
sculpture, video and digital art, film and photography, popular visual
culture and music, television programming, the print and digital news
media, literature, advertising, and other forms of public culture have
contended with the volatile material of oil and the systemic shifts that
it has produced, and in so doing contributed to, or contested, the
reorientation of modern American life around oil consumption.  We hope,
ultimately, to assemble a roster of essays that elucidate the complex
role that imaginative representations have played in the establishment
of oil as the primary commodity underpinning modern economic expansion
and a fundamental ontological construct shaping social and political
life in the United States and beyond.

Papers might address a range of subjects and problems, including:

–artistic engagements with oil, the petroleum industry, and
petro-carbon consumption
–art, environmentalism, and sustainability
–documentary photography and oil
–cinematic and televisual interpretations of oil
–oil in popular imagery and music
–oil companies and cultural patronage
–museums and the oil industry
–oil advertising and marketing
–petroleum at World’s Fairs and Oil Expositions
–architecture and the oil industry
–the material culture of oil consumption
–oil and the culture of automobility
–race, class, and gender in the oil fields
–oil, mobility, and subjectivity

Proposal Process:

Authors are asked to electronically submit an abstract of 500-1000 words
and an abbreviated cv (two pages) to Ross Barrett (
and Daniel Worden ( by September 1, 2010. Abstracts
should articulate the central arguments, historical and/or theoretical
implications, and methodological approach of the proposed essay, and
situate the essay within relevant scholarly conversations.  The abstract
and cv should be sent as Word documents or PDFs.

After reviewing the proposals, the editors will notify the selected
authors and submit chosen abstracts to the Journal of American Studies
by September 8, 2010. Upon acceptance by the journal, authors will be
asked to submit a full copy of their article to the issue editors by
January 2011.  The full version of the article should not exceed 6000
words, and should be accompanied by a short abstract (200-300 words).
All articles will go through the peer-review process, and it is on the
basis of these reviews that articles will be selected for publication in
the special issue.

For further information on the special issue, please see:

For further information on the Journal of American Studies, please see:

WLA 2010 fieldtrips

Arizona is home to several world-class tourist destinations you won’t want to miss while you are here for WLA’s 45th annual conference. I am pleased to announce two opportunities to visit the Grand Canyon state’s unique natural and cultural treasures. Both trips are scheduled to depart from the Prescott Resort at approximately 12:30 pm on Saturday, October 23rd. You will travel roundtrip on Shuttle U’s comfortable 13-seater vans with professional drivers. You may sign up when the registration page becomes available near the end of July.

1. Arcosanti is an experimental town in the high desert of Arizona. Built according to architect Paolo Soleri’s theory of “arcology,” (architecture + ecology) Arcosanti is a living example of sustainable community. You will take a 45-minute drive to the beautiful urban laboratory, be greeted there with a tour of the extensive, fascinating grounds, and have the opportunity to eat at the café and experience this amazing place on your own. This trip will return to the conference hotel by about 5:30. $35 per person.

2. Grand Canyon Village, a 90-minute drive from Prescott, is located on the south rim of the Grand Canyon. Your driver will stop first at Hermit’s Rest, architect Mary Colter’s 1914 canyon-side masterpiece. Look for other Colter buildings as you stroll the rim of the majestic canyon. This field trip allows you enough time to eat at the one the rim’s fine restaurants and catch a breathtaking sunset before leaving the canyon at about 7:00pm. $45 per person.