The American West in literature and film

Course Dates: 06/05/21 - 08/07/21
Time: 12:30 - 14:30
Location: Online
Saddle Up! This class examines the literary and cinematic history of the American West, delving into its iconic representation in literature and film from the 20th century to the present day. By looking at an exciting range of texts and films, from John Ford to Cormac McCarthy, the class explores the longstanding and ongoing fascination with the culture, politics and art of the American West.
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
Book your place
In stock
Full fee £189.00 Senior fee £151.00 Concession £115.00

Course Code: HLT11

Thu, day, 06 May - 08 Jul '21

Duration: 10 sessions (over 10 weeks)

Or call to enrol:020 7831 7831

Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Center for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.

What is the course about?

The course explores the image of the American West in literature and film, examining the ways in which major writers and directors have treated the subjects of the frontier, American Indian culture, national development, violence, the environment, race and gender. Through a detailed look at a range of influential writers and film makers, the course examines how the West continues to allow America and the world to project and reflect on its own experience.

This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
- Earphones/headphones/speakers.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.

What will we cover?

Topics covered will include the development of the American West in the 19th and 20th centuries, violence and race in American history, the transformation of the West in literature and film, and the ongoing fascination with the history of the West in American, but also global culture. We will examine both classic novels of the West, such as Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian (1985) and also lesser-known, but acclaimed works such as Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony (1977). Likewise, we will discuss influential films by famous directors such as John Ford and Clint Eastwood, while also looking at different perspectives on the experience of the West, such as Kelly Reichardt’s Meek’s Cuttoff (2010).
Texts: John Williams, Butcher’s Crossing (1960); Leslie Marmon Silko, Ceremony (1977); Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian (1985). Films: John Ford, The Searchers (1956); Arthur Penn, Little Big Man (1964); Sergio Leone, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966); Clint Eastwood, The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976); Kelly Reichardt, Meek’s Cutoff (2010).

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

• Have developed their literary, cinematic, historical, and cultural knowledge and expression, through varied reading on the American West in literature and film.
• Students should develop understanding of key literary and cinematic works on the American West, and a knowledge of the main thematic, historical, literary and political contexts of the West in literature and film.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

No particular skills are needed other than an interest in literature and reading.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

The class will be held in 2-hour sessions over ten weeks. The first half hour will be an interactive talk on the text, writer/director, themes and contexts. The following hour will be a round table and small group discussion of the texts/films in detail.

Watching films is not mandatory but will further enhance enjoyment of the sessions. They are either free or cheaply available to view online and/or to borrow from local libraries.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

Texts: John Williams, Butcher’s Crossing (1960)
Leslie Marmon Silko, Ceremony (1977)
Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian (1985).
Excerpts of films will be played in class.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

See other Literature courses at, Culture and Writing/literature or Film courses at, culture & writing/film studies.

Richard Niland

Richard Niland has published widely on Joseph Conrad and a range of other 19th and 20th century writers. He taught for many years at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow and is interested in the various intersections of literature, culture, politics, music and film in different global contexts.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.