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Introduction

  • Chris Packard

Abstract

Think cowboy, and what image comes to mind? The Marlboro man? The Lone Ranger? Matt Dillon? These men are icons, and their images are recognized around the world as symbols of American masculinity. Ruggedly handsome men of few words and calculated actions, they epitomize the strong, silent type that has for more than 150 years been associated with the freedoms of wide-open spaces in the American West. If you look a little closer at this image, you’ll see another figure, the cowboy’s sidekick—his partner and loyal friend. Together they ride the range, making or breaking laws. This book is about the bonds that hold this pair together, particularly the erotic affection that undergirds their friendship.

Keywords

Dominant Narrative Intimate Friendship Male Marriage Western History Biracial Child 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    For a good overview of the early publishing history of Westerns, see Daryl Jones’s first chapter in The Dime Novel Western (Bowling Green, OH: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1978).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See Ben Merchant Vorpahl’s My Dear Wis ter: The Frederic Remington— Own Wister Letters (Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 1972), p. 303.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    “Frontier” is a widely contested term. Traditionally when applied in Colonial and Early American contexts, “frontier” means the region outside settlements along the Atlantic territories of North America. In the nineteenth century, Anglo-Americans use the term “frontier” to mean an amorphous line extending from the banks of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers westward. In symbolic terms, “frontier” meant a location where epic encounters between opposing forces occur— civilization and wilderness, cowboy and Indian, familiar and foreign. Frederick Jackson Turner famously announced that the “first period of American history” ended in the 1890s when the frontier—that rolling line advancing from East to West—reached the Pacific Ocean and the “sea to shining sea” wish envisioned by Thomas Jefferson came true. The truest American character, according to Turner, was shaped in this imagined place he called “frontier” and his essay mourns its loss in elegiac terms. William R. Handley outlines the literary perspectives in Turner’s thesis in Marriage, Violence, and the Nation in the American Literary West (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001), pp. 43–66.Google Scholar
  4. Patricia Nelson Limerick, Something in the Soil: Legacies and Reckonings in the New West (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2000).Google Scholar
  5. 4.
    Ellison, Ralph. “Change the Joke and Slip the Yoke,” Shadow and Act. New York: Random House, 1964, p. 51.Google Scholar
  6. 5.
    Feidler, Leslie. “Come Back to the Raft Ag’in, Huck Honey!” The Partisan Review, XV:6 (June) 1948: 664–671.Google Scholar
  7. 6.
    Historians have pinpointed the moment when “the homosexual” was invented: Karl Westphal worte an article in 1870 called “Die Konträre Sexualempfindung (Contrary Sexual Sensations).” See Michel Foucalt’s The History of Sexuality, Vol. I (New York: Random House, 1978).Google Scholar
  8. 7.
    See Christopher Looby’s “Innocent Homosexuality’: The Fiedler Thesis in Retrospect,” The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (New York: Bedford Books, 1995), 535–550.Google Scholar
  9. 8.
    Michaels, Walter Benn. Our America: Nativism, Modernism, and Pluralism. Durham: Duke University Press, 1995.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    The chapter is called “A Reminiscent Night,” pp. 70–83. Although he massaged the truth considerably, Andy Adams is credited, along with Charlie Siringo’s A Texas Cowboy (1883), with representing the authentic cowboy experience in his autobiography. J. Frank Dobie, e.g., claims that The Log of a Cowboy is “a just and authentic conception of trail men.” The demands for realism in the genre were high; see Richard Dorson’s America in Legend (New York: Pantheon, 1973)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Analogies between breeding cattle and human sexuality are common in cowboy vernacular, as Blake Allmendinger has pointed out in The Cowboy: Representations of Labor in an American Work Culture (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), pp. 48–82.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Tompkins, Jane. West of Everything: The Inner Life of Westerns. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.Google Scholar
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    Clark, Badger C. Sun and Saddle Leather with Additional Poems. Boston: R. G. Badger, 1917.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Bruce Seiberts. Nothing but Prairie and Sky: Life on the Dakota Range in the Early Days. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1954.Google Scholar
  15. 16.
    These views are promoted by R.W.B Lewis in The American Adam: Innocence, Tragedy and Tradition in Nineteenth Century Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1955)Google Scholar
  16. Harry Levin The Power of Blackness: Hawthorne, Poe, Melville. New York: Knopf, 1970)Google Scholar
  17. Leo Marx (The Machine in the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999).Google Scholar
  18. 17.
    Faderman, Lillian. Surpassing the Love of Men: Romantic Friendship and Love between Women from the Renaissance to the Present. New York: Morrow, William & Co., 1994.Google Scholar
  19. 18.
    Philip Durham and Everett L. Jones, The Negro Cowboys. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1965.Google Scholar
  20. 19.
    Clifford Westermeier in “The Cowboy and Sex” (in The Cowboy: Six Shooters, Songs and Sex, ed. Charles W. Harris and Buck Rainy. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1976, pp. 98–105)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Chris Packard 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chris Packard

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