Awards at Charles Redd Center

The Charles Redd Center for Western Studies is pleased to announce multiple awards for 2012 that are available for scholars conducting research related to the Intermountain West (defined as: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming). Please see the descriptions below or click here <http://reddcenter.byu.edu/Pages/AboutOurAwards.aspx>  for further information and instructions for applying for each award.  Applications for 2012 are due March 15.  Please help us by forwarding this email to any of your colleagues in western studies who are not on the Redd Center’s distribution list.  Also, please tell your students who are conducting research on the Intermountain West about our research awards for students.

The Redd Center offers the following awards:

Faculty Research Awards provide up to $3,000 to faculty members at any academic institution to conduct research on any topic related to the Intermountain West.  Research may be conducted at any location.

Independent Research and Creative Awards provide up to $1,500 to researchers studying the Intermountain West who are not connected to an academic institution.  Research may be conducted at any location.

Summer Awards for Upper Division and Graduate Students at any academic institution provide up to $1,500 for research support for any topic related to the Intermountain West.  Research may be conducted at any location.

Annaley Naegle Redd Student Award in Women’s History provides up to $1,500 for research support concerning any aspect of women’s history in the American West (not limited to the Intermountain West.)  Research may be conducted at any location.

Public Programming Awards provide up to $3,000 to any organization planning a conference, museum exhibit or lecture series on a topic related to the Intermountain West.

Fellowship Awards in Western American History provide up to $3,500 in research support for scholars who travel to BYU to use the L. Tom Perry Special Collections in the Harold B. Lee Library.

Visiting Scholar Program provides a housing stipend and office facilities for 2-4 months to enable university faculty of all ranks, independent scholars, freelance authors and other public intellectuals to visit and conduct research at BYU.

INSTRUCTIONS FOR SUBMITTING AN APPLICATION:

To apply for an award, visit the Redd Center website (http://reddcenter.byu.edu <http://reddcenter.byu.edu/> ), and click on “Apply for an Award” on the right hand side of the homepage. You will then be taken to our awards application page. Select the award for which you would like to apply from the drop-down menu and complete your application. After you have completed your application, you will be given the opportunity to submit with or without printing your application for your records. We strongly encourage you to print a copy for your records. You will then receive a message indicating that your application has been successfully submitted. In addition, you will receive and email confirmation at the email address you list on your application. If you have any questions about the application process, or submitting your application, please contact Mary Nelson at 801-422-4048 or by email at mary_nelson@byu.edu <mailto:jasonedwardthompson@byu.edu>

Jessie Embry
Associate Director, Charles Redd Center for Western Studies
366 SWKT
BYU
Provo, UT 84602
801-422-7585
Jessie_embry@byu.edu

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“Nebraska,” part II

In the episode of The Walking Dead “Nebraska,” you may have noticed this poster on the wall of the bar (one of the many western allusions in that episode).

CFP: Great Plains

Click on Link for CFP for Great Plains Quarterly

Call for submissions

Justified: Thick as Mud

At the start of the recent episode of Justified, Dewey Crowe wakes up in a motel room bathtub with two deep slashes in his stomach. Renegade medic Lance (who helped Dewey and Dickie escape prison in the previous episode) claims to have removed both Dewey’s kidneys. To get them back, Lance tells Dewey, he must buy them back.

Spoilers follow

What follows is a darkly comic episode as Dewey (“I’m a desperate man”) goes on a crime spree that is notable for the lack of revenue it produces, and which ends up with Dewey trapped in a convenient store storeroom. Some favorite moments from the episode:

Dewey: “You mean I had four kidneys?”

Raylan’s most amazing feat of marksmanship in the series. Drugged and deposited in a bathtub, he manages to shoot the nefarious nurse Layla. She has a gun pointed at him and is about to pull the trigger. Raylan is both drugged and pinned down by the body of Lance (who Layla just shot). Still, he manages to fire his pistol, the bullet travels through Lance’s body, and finds its target in Layla. Both Layla and Raylan seem equally surprised by this outcome.

Meanwhile, things are heating up between Dixie Mafia “carpetbagger” Robert Quarles and Boyd Crowder.

Two Guys Walk into A Bar . . . .

Like F/X’s Justified, AMC’s The Walking Dead is a contemporary western set in the East—mostly in Georgia (although the graphic novel on which the series is based has moved from Georgia to other locations). As noted in an earlier blog post on Hell on Wheels (another AMC series), what The Walking Dead shares with a more traditional western is an interest in observing humanity in a “state of nature,” in returning to a time before the institution of the laws of civilization in order to examine what is essential about human nature outside of the influence of society.  The frontier setting of the western provides a “state of nature” environment where that investigation can take place. Different westerns suggest different philosophical positions as to what human existence would be like in a state of nature. In The Walking Dead, a cataclysmic event (the virus that turns people into zombies) has reduced humanity to a “state of nature,” and the driving philosophical concept is Hobbesian—that in a state of nature every person is out for himself, and that without the order of government (or another type of authority), we are in a state of continual warfare. In this state of nature, it is kill or be killed (or, in Walking Dead terms, kill or be eaten).

Although the primary threat in the series up to now has been the walking dead and their voracious appetite, we are seeing more indication that the truly dangerous threat is other survivors (and this is definitely the direction that the graphic novel series takes). Zombies don’t seem to think, don’t move very fast, and seemingly have no instinct for self-preservation. That last one is what makes humans particularly dangerous. In a kill or be killed environment, what will—and what won’t—humans do in order to survive?

Like Justified, The Walking Dead is often playfully conscious of its roots in the western, and there are references throughout the series to western motifs (the sheriff rides into town on a horse when his car runs out of gas, a rider falls off his horse when it’s frightened by a snake, etc.).  In the most recent episode “Nebraska,” the story takes up where the last episode before the mid-season hiatus ended—with the zombies corralled in Hershel’s barn (he hopes a cure will be found and that eventually his zombified family members will be returned to normal) let loose by Shane (note western reference) and slaughtered as they emerge. After this, Hershel, who has been on the wagon for 30 years, leaves the farm where they are all taking refuge and goes to the nearby deserted town where he finds a bar and starts drinking.

And here begins one of the longest “western” scenes in the series, an extended sequence inside of an empty bar that looks like it could be used as a set for a traditional western without too much modification. At one point, we see a poster advertising a “wild west show” on a wall. The series’ protagonist, former lawman Rick Grimes, arrives to bring Hershel back to the farm.  While they are at the bar, two guys walk in, and what follows is not a joke. The conversation between the two groups of survivors becomes increasingly tense as Tony and Dave (the two guys) press Rick to take them back to the farm. Rick is reluctant to do so, in part because, inviting two guys you don’t know to your safe haven in the midst of the zombie apocalypse is simply not a good idea.

Spoilers follow:

Guns are drawn, and the conversation continues. At one point, Dave jumps across to the other side of the bar (to get a bottle of the “good stuff”) and sets his gun on top of the bar. At a certain point in the conversation, Dave goes for the gun, and Rick demonstrates that he has the quick draw skills of a western lawman by pulling his gun from its holster, and shooting and killing first Dave, then Tony (who also has a gun). This is first western showdown shootout of the series. Zombies, as a rule, don’t carry guns, and so drawing your gun quickly is not a particularly useful talent when dealing with the walking dead. But, the living, on the other hand. . . .

I think this is the first time in the television series that Rick has killed a living human. In the graphic novel series, we’ve seen Rick grapple with this issue several different times, and the rightness or wrongness of his action (killing a living human) is often ambivalently presented. In “Nebraska,” the situation in which Rick’s shooting takes place suggests little ambivalence. Watching this scene, I could almost hear Raylan Givens’ voice in the background saying, “He pulled first, and I shot him. It was justified.” We’ve seen similar scenes in westerns hundreds of times, and the genre context tells us that Rick did what he had to do. I’m not sure that the report of what he has done will be received that way when he returns back to the farm, so I guess we’ll see how that plays out. In the graphic novel, Rick’s actions are more questioned and are presented in ways that are more ambivalent than in the television series—which thus far has used the character of Shane instead to explore the edgier terrain of how far one can (and cannot) go in terms of violence and still be acceptable.

Justified: The Devil You Know

One clear theme is emerging in this season’s episodes of Justified: the continuing evolution of Dickie Bennett’s hair—which gets more and more mussed up as the season progresses. By the end of “The Devil You Know,” the most recent episode of the series, Dickie looks like his hair has been licked by a whole herd of cows. “The Devil You Know” is the best of the episodes thus far to focus (at least in part) on the character of Dickie. Part of the reason is that Dickie is becoming a kind of likeable loser who, it turns out, isn’t always a loser, or, at least, is not as weasley as he sometimes appears. Another reason is the decision to pair Dickie with Dewey Crowe, and these two birds of a feather work very effectively as a comic pair. I’m beginning to hope that Jeremy Davies will repeat Margo Martindale’s accomplishments at the Emmy Awards—and that a Bennett will win a best supporting award for the second year in a row. At the very least, he deserves a Special Award for Best Hair Acting.

In this episode, Dickie gets himself beaten up in the prison yard to facilitate a trip to the infirmary. Dewie, not realizing it’s all a set up, jumps in to help out his friend, and ends up getting beat up as badly as Dickie, and for no real reason, although the insiders at the prison assisting the escape decide the only way to keep him quiet about the breakout is to take him along. Best scene: after being sedated and put into a body bag, the confused Dewie wakes up and begins thrashing around desperately inside the bag.

There are a couple of joking allusions to the western genre in the episode. In a motel room where Dewie and Dickie are stashed, we see them watching Gunsmoke on television. When Raylan spots prison guard Ash outside the motel room carrying a bag of food, the scene is shot in the form of a classic western showdown, with a cut to a shot low and behind Ash so that we see the gun on his hip (or in his back pocket). However, the showdown departs from the classic formula when Raylan decides to take Ash out with his car rather than his gun.

Justified: “Harlan Roulette”

My three favorite things about the most recent episode of Justified:

1. Dickie Bennett’s hair

Just how many cows have licked that boy’s head?

I was thrilled at the beginning of season two to see that Jeremy Davies had been cast in the role of Dickie Bennett. His performance as Daniel Faraday in Lost was one of my favorite parts of that series. Although none of the rest of the Bennett family made it out of season two of Justified alive, it’s good to see Dickie is still kicking (and still being kicked) around. It’s also good to see the way the actor has really sunk himself into the character. In the second season, Dickie still reminded me at moments of Daniel Faraday. At this point, however, Faraday has completely disappeared from Davies’ performance and he completely embodies the character of Dickie. Although, he looks like a comb hasn’t seen his hair since his last days back on the Island.

2. Shoutouts to In Plain Sight and Breaking Bad

When Raylan visits pawnshop dealer Glen Fogle (ubiquitous actor Pruitt Taylor Vince), he comments that it occurs to him that a pawnshop was a pretty good place for someone who wanted to “hide things in plain sight.” Fogle responds, “I’ll keep that in mind if I ever decide to break bad.”

3. Robert Quarles description of his childhood

Dixie Mafia bigwig Robert Quarles comments: “My father never let us watch Sesame Street or anything like that. He made us watch Taxi Driver.”