Returning Summer 2022: A Chronicle of the Frontier: The Western as Myth and History

west

A CHRONICLE OF THE FRONTIER:

THE WESTERN AS MYTH AND HISTORY

­­A 10-WEEK ONLINE COURSE (Summer, 2022)

PRESENTED BY MATTHEW ASPREY GEAR

In this original 10-week online course, to be delivered via the Google Meet platform, we’ll study 15 Westerns made between 1946 and 2021. Arranged as a chronicle of American history, these films collectively depict – and mythologize – more than a century of frontier life, from the Creek War of 1813 to the ranches of Montana in 1925.

The course will examine the history behind the myths, how these movies were made, and the aesthetics of the Western film. We’ll also study the careers of legendary directors such as John Ford, Clint Eastwood, Sergio Leone, Sam Peckinpah, Anthony Mann, and Budd Boetticher. It is designed as both an overview for curious newcomers and a fresh look for long-time fans of this great and often controversial American genre.

Classes are limited to a maximum of 12 students. Each week I’ll give an original lecture presentation and then lead an in-depth group discussion. All participants will have a chance to contribute. The only weekly homework will be to watch a film (or two) and occasionally read a short article. There will be no final exam or essay. This course is designed purely for enjoyment and discovery. All are welcome.

Weekly session: Sundays at 12pm PT/3pm ET (North America)
(8pm UK time/9pm CET)

(NB. The lecture portion of the session will be recorded and available for download if you are unable to attend a live session and need to catch up.)

Price per student: US$130. Contact me at matthewaspreygear@gmail.com for further information.

LECTURE PLAN

June 5
Lecture 1. Introduction: The Western as Myth and History
RIDE LONESOME (1959) – Budd Boetticher [73min]
A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS (1964) – Sergio Leone [99min]

June 12
Lecture 2. The Wild Frontier (1813-1845)
DAVY CROCKETT: KING OF THE WILD FRONTIER (1955) – Norman Foster [92min]
MEEK’S CUTOFF (2010) – Kelly Reichardt [104min]

June 19
Lecture 3. The Chisholm Trail (1851-1865)
RED RIVER (1948) – Howard Hawks [133min]
Reading: Excerpt from Roughing It by Mark Twain

June 26
Lecture 4. The American Civil War / The Franco-Mexican War (1860s)
THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES (1976) – Clint Eastwood [135min]
 
VERA CRUZ (1954) – Robert Aldrich [94min]

July 3
Lecture 5. The Apache Wars (1870s-1886)
FORT APACHE (1948) – John Ford [125min]
Reading: Excerpt from Story of his Life by Geronimo

* ONE WEEK BREAK *

July 17
Lecture 6. Dodge City and Tombstone (1876-1882)
WINCHESTER ’73 (1950) – Anthony Mann [97min]
MY DARLING CLEMENTINE (1946) – John Ford [97min]

July 24
Lecture 7. Outlaws (1880-85)
ONE-EYED JACKS (1961) – Marlon Brando [141min]
Reading: Excerpt from The Authentic Life of Billy the Kid by Pat Garrett

July 31
Lecture 8. End of the West (1898-1912)
RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY (1962) – Sam Peckinpah [94min]
THERE WILL BE BLOOD (2007) – Paul Thomas Anderson [158min]

* ONE WEEK BREAK *

August 14
Lecture 9. The Mexican Revolution (1910s)
A BULLET FOR THE GENERAL (1966) – Damiano Damiani [118min]
Reading: Excerpt from The Treasure of the Sierra Madre by B. Traven

August 21
Lecture 10. Montana (1925)
POWER OF THE DOG (2021) – Jane Campion [126min]
Reading: Excerpt from Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett