A Horseman of the Plains
Although the origins of the western are as old as colonial westward expansion, it was Owen Wister's novel The Virginian, published in 1902, that established most of the now-familiar conventions of the genre. On the heels of the classic western's centennial, this collection of essays both re-examines... read more the text of The Virginian and uses Wister's novel as a lens for studying what the next century of western writing and reading will bring. The contributors address Wister's life and travels, the novel's influence on and handling of gender and race issues, and its illustrations and various retellings on stage, film, and television as points of departure for speculations about the "new West"-as indeed Wister himself does at the end of the novel. The contributors reconsider the novel's textual complexity and investigate The Virginian's role in American literary and cultural history. Together their essays represent a new western literary studies, comparable to the new western history. Melody Graulich is a professor of English at Utah State University and the editor of Western American Literature.Stephen Tatum teaches in the Department of English at the University of Utah and is the author of Inventing Billy the Kid: Visions of the Outlaw in America, 1881-1981 and Cormac McCarthy's All the Pretty Horses: A Reader's Guide.