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There are few genres that capture the hearts of their audiences like the Western. While they are not always true to it, Westerns are tied to, and expressive of, the history of the United States. As such, they serve both to reflect and inform the American psyche. Indeed, the Western is arguably the most iconic and influential genre in American cinema. Through characters like Shane and William Munny, it continues to captivate audience's imaginations.

The Philosophy of the Western features a variety of essays that consider the philosophical significance of Westerns. From classic films such as Fort Apache (1948) and The Wild Bunch (1969) to contemporary films and TV shows such as 3:10 to Yuma (2007), No Country for Old Men (2007), and Deadwood (2004-6), The Philosophy of the Western uses modern philosophical thought to analyze the underlying thematic framework of the genre. Editors Jennifer L. McMahon and B. Steve Csaki gather noted contributors to investigate, among other things, identity, ethics, gender, and animal rights within the western.

Drawing from philosophers as varied as Aristotle, Spinoza, William James and Jean-Paul Sartre, The Philosophy of the Western examines topics including: the epistemological and ethical benefits of solitude and how the Western influences personal identity. The philosophies of John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, and J.J. Rousseau are likewise invoked to show how Westerns illustrate the nature of human relationships and the necessary conditions of social and political order. The result is a comprehensive study of fundamental questions about morality, identity, and social organization.

Offering an intriguing glimpse into the Western genre, The Philosophy of the Western provides a detailed analysis of the origins and continuing influence of the quintessential American icon.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780813125916
Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
Publication date: 07/02/2010
Series: The Philosophy of Popular Culture
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 847,219
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Jennifer L. McMahon, associate professor and chair of the English and Languages Department at East Central University, is a contributor to The Philosophy of TV Noir, The Philosophy of Martin Scorsese, and The Simpsons and Philosophy. She lives in Stratford, Oklahoma. B. Steve Csaki was most recently a visiting professor at Centre College, where he taughtcourses in philosophy, the humanities, and Japanese. He lives in Stratford, Oklahoma.

Table of Contents

Do Not Forsake Me My Darling: Loneliness and Solitude in Westerns
Civilization and its Discontents: The Self-Sufficient Western Hero
Mommas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Pragmatists
Two Ways to Yuma: Locke, Liberalism, and Western Masculinity in 3:10 to Yuma
Landscapes of Gendered Violence: Male Love and Anxiety on the Railroad
Order Out of the Mud: Deadwood and the State of Nature
Order Without Law: The Magnificent Seven, East and West
From Dollars to Iron: The Currency of Clint Eastwood's Westerns
The Duty of Reason: Kantian Ethics in High Noon
The Cost of the Code: Ethical Consequences in High Noon and The Ox-Bow Incident
Back Off to What? The Search for Meaning in The Wild Bunch
No Country for Old Men: The Decline of Ethics and the West (ern)
The North-Western: McCabe and Mrs. Miller
Savage Nations: Native Americans and the American Western
Regeneration through Stories and Song: The View from the Other Side of the West in Smoke Signals
Go West, Young Woman! Hegel's Dialectic and Women's Identities in Western Films
Beating a Live Horse: The Elevation and Degradation of the Horse in Westerns

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