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

Jeannette Vaught

Doctoral Student
Jeannette Vaught



Jeannette Vaught received her BA in English from Vassar College in 2005 and her MA in American Studies from UT in 2009. She is finishing a PhD in American Studies and graduating May 2015. Her dissertation, “Science, Animals, and Profit-Making in the American Rodeo Arena,” documents the scientific enhancement of animals in rodeo and the beef industry from 1965 to the present. While these scientifically created animals transformed rodeo into a modern spectacle and transformed beef into a more efficient consumer product, they also helped to redefine a powerfully gendered conception of "traditional" western culture that helped nationalize western conservative politics into the twenty-first century.

She is currently teaching an undergraduate seminar, The Cowboy Mystique in American Culture, in which the class examines the figure of the American cowboy as a way to better understand changes in gender, race, power, and global politics over the twentieth century in the United States.

Current CV, as well as print and web publications, can be found at the links in the sidebar.



"Materia Medica: Technology, Vaccination, and Anti-Vivisection in Jazz Age Philadelphia," American Quarterly, September 2013.

"Dead Horses," The End of Austin.


History of the American West, American cultural history, science and technology studies, environmental history, animal studies, veterinary history, food industry studies

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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