|About the Book|
Although the origins of the western are as old as colonial westward expansion, it was Owen Wister’s novel The Virginian, published in 1902, that established most of the now-familiar conventions of the genre. On the heels of the classic western’s centennial, this collection of essays both re-examines the text of The Virginian and uses Wister’s novel as a lens for studying what the next century of western writing and reading will bring. The contributors address Wister’s life and travels, the novel’s influence on and handling of gender and race issues, and its illustrations and various retellings on stage, film, and television as points of departure for speculations about the “new West”—as indeed Wister himself does at the end of the novel. The contributors reconsider the novel’s textual complexity and investigate The Virginians role in American literary and cultural history. Together their essays represent a new western literary studies, comparable to the new western history.