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True Grit: Dirt, Subjectivity and the Female Body in Contemporary Westerns.

Savage, Jordan (2020) 'True Grit: Dirt, Subjectivity and the Female Body in Contemporary Westerns.' Zeitschrift fur Anglistik und Amerikanistik, 68 (1). 53 - 66. ISSN 0044-2305

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Abstract

This article considers the significance of dirt to three Western texts: Lonesome Land, Mudbound, and Brokeback Mountain. The overall argument is that the more complicated and ambiguous dirt is permitted to be, the more imaginative and critical potential it has for the iconography of the contemporary Western. Taking B.M. Bower’s 1912 Western Romance as a model, it is argued that the dirt aesthetic is crucial to how Westerns construct the myth of the American character. This is further complicated by intersections between representations of the white rural poor, women (as for both Lonesome Land and Mudbound, there are connotations of sexual impurity in the dirty white female body), and representations of queerness. In the two versions of Brokeback Mountain, Annie Proulx’ short story and Ang Lee’s film, we see the ambiguity of dirt: it can be read as an essential part of the American land, or as polluting waste matter. The critical framework draws on feminist history and criticism via Kathleen Healey and Phyllis Palmer; sociological theories of imagining poverty in North America via Kate Cairns and Winfried Fluck; and queer theory via Christopher Schmidt.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: American Studies, Western Generic Studies, Westerns, Film, Literature, Film Studies, American Literature, Gender, Sexuality
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, Department of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 24 Oct 2019 11:56
Last Modified: 26 Mar 2021 02:00
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/25676

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