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Westerns: From "Shane" to "Brokeback Mountain"

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Course Description:

Central to the American narrative is the frontier, a wilderness to be tamed and civilized. For many of us, our exposure to this era first came through the Western, a film genre once dominant but, in 2018, was represented by only nine feature films. As early as 1912, the Western film presented the iconic American hero, who enters a troubled landscape of cattlemen, farmers, and Native Americans—all fighting to retain or gain a foothold in the West. Our hero must appease everyone—except, ordinarily, the Native Americans—as peacefully as possible and then ride off into the sunset. By the 1970s, filmmakers had to respond to a dramatically changing popular culture, so our hero (and sometimes heroine) was relocated to different times and frontiers.

In this class, we will examine the conventions of the Western genre, attributes of the official hero/outlaw hero dichotomy, and aspects of gender and sexual identity. We will view and discuss four films spanning a period of 50 years, films that represent quite different versions of the American West.


Tuition: $45.00

Additional Fees: $0.00

Register Myself


Wednesdays, Oct. 9, 16, 23, 30
*2:00 - 5:00pm* (4 sessions)


CSUMB at Ryan Ranch, 8 Upper Ragsdale Drive, Monterey


William Brigham, M.S.W., M.A., has been writing about and teaching film from the perspectives of sociology, psychology and critical studies for 40 years. HIs "Historical Dictionary of Woody Allen" will be published in August 2019.