Looking West

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Overview

Through a series of Western texts—folkloric, photographic, literary, and historical—Dorst outlines another pattern of looking west, one characterized by optical distortion, faulty vision, and the ambiguous intersection of spectatorship, display, and covert observation. He applies the insights gained from this analysis of discursive patterns to various cultural displays located in the contemporary West.

In a series of ethnographic case studies—two folk art displays, a Western heritage theme park, and Devils Tower National Monument—he shows how this other discourse plays out at actual sites and institutions. In doing so, Dorst offers an account of visual practices that, though dressed in the images and narratives of the American West, are in fact characteristic of our modern consumer culture in general.

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Editorial Reviews

Contemporary Ethnography
It is a central premise of Looking West that over roughly the past one hundred years the American West has been an important laboratory for the production of modern visual discourses. Dortst offers an account of visual practices that, though dressed in the images and narratives of the American West, are in fact characteristic of our modern consumer culture in general.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812214406
  • Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/28/1999
  • Series: Contemporary Ethnography
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 248
  • Product dimensions: 6.05 (w) x 8.96 (h) x 0.66 (d)

Meet the Author

John D. Dorst is Professor of American Studies at the University of Wyoming. He is the author of The Written Suburb: An American Site, An Ethnographic Dilemma, also available from the University of Pennsylvania Press.
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Table of Contents

List of Figures
Introduction 1
1 Short Excursions: Some Moments of Western Looking 13
2 Into the West with Gun and Camera: An Excursion in Wister's Visual Moment 40
3 "That's What Worries Me, It's Too Quiet": An Ethnographic Excursion 75
4 Looking at Looking: A Theoretical and Historical Excursion 96
5 Machines and Gardens: Two Cases of Vernacular Display 119
6 Over Prison Walls: Display and Ideology at the Wyoming Territorial Park 150
7 Monumental Optics: The Visual Management of Devils Tower 192
Notes 217
Works Cited 229
Index 235
Acknowledgments 239
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