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Examining pre-nineteenth-century writings that do not fit conceptions of the Wild West or of cowboys, cattle ranching, and the Pony Express, these thirteen essays demonstrate that no single, unified idea or geography defines the American West.

Contributors investigate texts ranging from the Norse Vinland Sagas and Mary Rowlandson’s famous captivity narrative to early Spanish and French exploration narratives, an eighteenth-century English novel, and a play by Aphra Behn.

Before the West Was West examines the extent to which scholars have engaged in-depth with pre-1800 “western” texts and asks what we mean by “western” American literature in the first place and when that designation originated.

Calling into question the implicit temporal boundaries of the “American West” in literature, a literature often viewed as having commenced only at the beginning of the 1800s, Before the West Was West explores the concrete, meaningful connections between different texts as well as the development of national ideologies and mythologies.

Through its examination of the disparate and multifaceted body of literature that arises from a broad array of cultural backgrounds and influences, Before the West Was West apprehends the literary West in temporal as well as spatial and cultural terms and poses new questions about “westernness” and its literary representation.

A Companion to the Literature and Culture of the American West presents a series of essays that explore the historic and contemporary cultural expressions rooted in America's western states.

Treatments range from environmental and ecopoetic to transnational and transcultural, reflecting the richness of the field.

Ahnise Summers by the Rotary Club of Aggieland with matching support from the Sara and John H. ø Why is western writing virtually missing from the American literary canon but a frequent success in the marketplace?A perusal of western American authorship reveals how these writers effectively present themselves as accurate and reliable recorders of real places, histories, and cultures? The imaginative qualities of this literature are thus obscured in the name of authentic reproduction.Through a study of a set of western authors and their relationships to literary and cultural history, Lewis offers a reconsideration of the deceptive and often undervalued history of western American literature.She reexamines the premises underlying the telling of the literary West and posits a female model of creativity at the genesis of American literature.She follows four authors on a multigenerational journey, beginning with Margaret Fuller in 1843, moving on a generation later to Willa Cather, advancing to Jean Stafford, and ending with Marilynne Robinson.

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