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Cowboy ClassicsThe Roots of the American Western in the Epic Tradition$
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Kirsten Day

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781474402460

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474402460.001.0001

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(p.1) Prologue
Cowboy Classics

Kirsten Day

Edinburgh University Press

This prologue to Cowboy Classics overviews the growing interest in classical receptions: the study of how the classical world has been represented since antiquity, guided by the belief that these examinations can enhance the understanding of both the receiving society and the ancient one. After distinguishing classical receptions from the earlier classical tradition movement, which focuses on influence rather than dialogue, this chapter acknowledges objections to receptions studies from scholars both outside and within the field of classics, including the particular problem of comparing classical works with modern film – collaboratively-produced visual works often considered lowbrow compared to the elite literary texts of antiquity. Drawing on the work of filmmakers, teachers, and receptions scholars, this prologue argues for cinematic productions as legitimate visual texts of comparative value not only pedagogically, but also culturally, in that mainstream film, like classical epic, embeds its culture’s most closely held assumptions and worldviews. Finally, this prologue considers the specific problem of receptions studies like the one undertaken in this book – those with no evident direct connection to antiquity – arguing that these allow more focus on meaning rather than influence while bringing past works into present relevance rather than vice versa.

Keywords:   Classical receptions, Classical tradition, Film, Visual texts, Classical epic

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