The American West on Television
Western Literature Association Conference, Missoula, Montana, October 5-8, 2011
Although the golden age of the television western has long since passed, we have seen in the 21st century a remarkable rebirth of the portrayal of the West on television: in reality shows (such as MTV’s The Real World, set most recently in Hollywood), in series that reinvent and revise the classic western (such as Deadwood), and in series that make extensive use of western settings and locations (such as the original C. S. I.). For this panel topic, we are interested in original work investigating the depiction of the West in contemporary television. Papers might be focused on readings of individual episodes, comprehensive discussions of an entire series, or comprehensive discussions of a particular element of the television West that touches on several series. I hope to assemble one or two panels on the topic, depending on the number and quality of submissions.
Some possible topics might include (but are not limited to):
Televisions series taking place in contemporary (such as Big Love, Breaking Bad, The Killing, or Friday Night Lights) or historical (Deadwood, Carnivale) western settings
Television series that take western genre conventions and adapt them to a contemporary setting (such as Sons of Anarchy); or that relocate western conventions in other places (such as Justified) or to other frontier settings (such as the science fiction series Firefly)
Television series that center on “tough women” in the American West (such as In Plain Sight and Saving Grace); essays might also look at individual female characters who are part of a larger ensemble (such as in Sons of Anarchy and Breaking Bad)
Television series that depict the Canadian West (such as Little Mosque on the Praire, Heartland, or Vancouver-based series such as Da Vinci’s Inquest and Intelligence)
The West of Reality TV (such as Sarah Palin’s Alaska and Ice Road Truckers)
Television coverage of (and/or video responses to) the January 8, 2011, shootings in Tucson as visual narratives about the West
Please direct inquiries or submit a 250-word abstract to firstname.lastname@example.org by May 30, 2011.
Participants on the panel (or panels) also will be invited to submit expanded papers to a special issue of Western American Literature on the theme of television and the American West.