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Steven Hoelscher, Chair Burdine 437, Mailcode B7100, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-7277

Jeannette Vaught

Doctoral Student



M.A. American Studies, The University of Texas at Austin
B.A. English and History, Vassar College


Western American history and iconography, science studies and the history of veterinary and human medicine, animal studies, food studies, literature and film

AMS 311S • Cowboy Mystique In Amer Cul

30845 • Fall 2014
Meets MWF 1000am-1100am GAR 0.120
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An image both familiar and enigmatic, the cowboy has been a central figure in American culture over the course of the twentieth century.  This course will examine various constructions of cowboy identity in film, media, and politics, investigating continuities and transformations in the cowboy’s embodiment of masculine identity.  

This course will be divided into three sections.  The first will explore the early construction of the cowboy in the twentieth century and its relation to political power, such as President Theodore Roosevelt’s Rough Rider identity and its role in expanding the American empire.  The second will focus on male sexuality during the Cold War period, where a range of cowboy cultures sometimes shored up and sometimes challenged a masculine identity tied to a consensus ideology.  The final section will delve into the post-Vietnam era cowboy, a complex figure with a major role both in the counterculture and in its backlash – think Burt Reynolds vis-à-vis the “cowboy president” Ronald Reagan, a modern president who put a cowboy identity to much different purposes than Theodore Roosevelt did at the beginning of the century.                 



Participation: 15%

Response papers: 15%

Unit Papers: 30%

Final Revised Paper: 40%


Possible Texts

Joy Kasson, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West

Gail Bederman, Manliness and Civilization

Tom Engelhardt, The End of Victory Culture

Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

Daniel Pierce, Real NASCAR

Media such as The Lone Ranger, Gunsmoke, spaghetti westerns, Clint Eastwood movies, and bootlegging movies


Flag(s): Writing


“Materia Medica: Technology, Vaccination, and Antivivisection in Jazz Age Philadelphia.” American Quarterly vol. 65, no. 3 (September 2013): 575-594.

All Hat, No Cattle.”  Review of Gender, Whiteness, and Power in Rodeo: Breaking Away From the Ties of Sexism and Racism, Tracey Owens Patton and Sally M. Schedlock. Humanimalia 4, no. 2 (Spring 2013): web.

“Deserting the Desert, Salvaging the Southland: The Re-Location of the American Hero and Cultural Identity in 1970s Outlaw Movies.” Text Practice Performance 7 (2008): 9-28.

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