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Myth of the WesternNew Perspectives on Hollywood's Frontier Narrative$
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Matthew Carter

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780748685585

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748685585.001.0001

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. What Counts as History and Whose History is it?

. What Counts as History and Whose History is it?

(p.163) 4. What Counts as History and Whose History is it?
Myth of the Western

Matthew Carter

Edinburgh University Press

The fourth chapter brings us up to the current century by considering the so-called post-Western. It analyses the scholarship of the New Western historians. In particular, it considers their attempt to replace Turner's Frontier Thesis with the more complex term, la frontera, as the historical West's defining paradigm. As its case study, it analyses Tommy Lee Jones’ The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada by exploring the extent of its scrutiny of the myth of the West. It suggests that Three Burials deconstructs the concept of a homogeneous and stable American national identity – this time in relation to Hispanic America – through its narrative focus on the borderlands. It reveals that myths abound on both sides of the border – of all borders; furthermore, that what the Mexican immigrants depicted are chasing is their own myth of the United States. The chapter then develops a philosophical discussion of the inextricable status of myth and history, suggesting that Three Burials offers an examination of the way in which the myth of the West has shaped the concept of national identity along racist and gendered lines; at the same time, it demonstrates the Western's long-standing capacity to oppose such a conception.

Keywords:   New Western History, Frontier Thesis, La Frontera, Borderlands, Hispanic Americans, National Identity

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