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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.198) Conclusion
Cowboy Classics

Kirsten Day

Edinburgh University Press

This short conclusion reiterates the main thesis of Cowboy Classics: that Westerns help us grapple with identity issues in a culturally relevant way while providing the comfort of chronological distancing, much as Homer and Virgil’s epics did for their societies. As a result, the Western has proven remarkably resilient, with the past decade seeing a number of big-budget films, both originals and remakes, as well as successful TV series. And just as the characterization of epic heroes shaped notions of idealized masculinity in antiquity, the Western hero remains a pervasive model for ideal manhood in America more generally, as is evident both in other film genres – from science fiction and fantasy to detective and gangster films to post-apocalyptic narratives – and in real world scenarios where men are engaged in heroic action on behalf of society (or want to be seen as such). Indeed, the model of masculinity Westerns provide is so deeply ingrained in the American cultural consciousness that it in turn colors our reception of ancient epic, which is itself now often filtered through a “Western” lens.

Keywords:   Westerns, Homer, Virgil, Epic, Hero, Manhood, Masculinity, Reception

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