Queer Cowboys: And Other Erotic Male Friendships in Nineteenth-Century American Literature

Overview

Was the American Cowboy gay? Judging from the earliest representations of cowboys and other frontier figures in popular literature - who typically preferred a "buddy" over a wife - the answer seems to be yes. Evidence from books by nineteenth-century Western writers (from legends such as James Fenimore Cooper, Mark Twain, and Owen Wister, to more obscure novelists and diarists) shows how same-sex intimacy and homoerotic admiration were key aspects of Westerns well before the word "homosexual" and its synonyms ...
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Overview

Was the American Cowboy gay? Judging from the earliest representations of cowboys and other frontier figures in popular literature - who typically preferred a "buddy" over a wife - the answer seems to be yes. Evidence from books by nineteenth-century Western writers (from legends such as James Fenimore Cooper, Mark Twain, and Owen Wister, to more obscure novelists and diarists) shows how same-sex intimacy and homoerotic admiration were key aspects of Westerns well before the word "homosexual" and its synonyms were invented. American writers celebrated erotic frontier friendships as alternatives to the lawless violence that characterized stories about the early settlers' fabled lives. These males-only clubs of journalists, cowboys, miners, Indians, and vaqueros defined themselves by excluding femininity and the cloying ills of domesticity, while embracing what Theodore Roosevelt called "strenuous living" with other bachelors in the relative "purity" of wilderness conditions. Queer Cowboys recovers this forgotten culture of exclusively masculine, sometimes erotic, and often intimate camaraderie in fiction, poems, photographs, and song lyrics.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A searching and original study. Chris Packard has managed to tease out evidence of same-sex attraction in places where one would not have expected to find it."—Larry McMurtry, co-writer of the award-winning screenplay for Brokeback Mountain and author of Lonesome Dove
"Thanks, Chris Packard, for searching out eros between men in the texts that created the iconic image of the Western American hero. So 'Come back to the Raft Ag'in, Huck Honey!' and see what this scholar has found."—Jonathan Ned Katz, author, Love Stories: Sex between Men before Homosexuality
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781403975973
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 3/1/2006
  • Edition description: REV
  • Pages: 160
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.34 (d)

Meet the Author

Chris Packard teaches literature and writing at New York University and New School University. His essays have appeared in Arizona Quarterly, Common-Place, and Concerns; his fiction and poetry have appeared in literary quarterlies, exhibitions, and the popular press.

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Table of Contents

Ch. 1 All-male queer interracial families in the wilderness : James Fenimore Cooper solves his progeny problem 19
Ch. 2 Rehearsing and ridiculing marriage in The Virginian and other adventure tales 41
Ch. 3 American satyriasis in Whitman, Harris, and Hartland 71
Ch. 4 "Queer secrets" in men's clubs : humor, violence, and homoerotic elision in works by Mark Twain, Beret Harte, and Eugene Field 95
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