Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Philosophy of the Western

Drs. Ken Hada, Robin Murphy, Jennifer McMahon and Steve Csaki.
On Wednesday, March 8th, ECU celebrated the publication of The Philosophy of Western (U of Kentucky, 2010), edited by ECU's own Drs. Jennifer McMahon and  B. Steve Csaki.  The collection includes essays by each of the editors as well as Drs. Ken Hada and Robin Murphy, all four faculty of ECU's English and Languages department.

Csaki's essay, "Mommas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Pragmatists," argues that John Wayne, "the quintessential western hero, "achieved his iconic status as a western hero in large part because he embodied the ideals of American pragmatism" articulated by William James (1842-1910) and John Dewey (1859-1952) (4).

In "The Cost of the Code: Ethical Consequences in High Noon and The Ox-Bow Incident," Hada "challenges the moral absolutism that is characteristic of many westerns" and specifically questions the "unflinching ethics" embraced by the characters in both film (6).

Murphy's essay, "Go West, Young Woman! Hegel's Dialectic and Women's Identities in Western Films," which she co-authored with Gary Heba, uses a Hegelian dialectic to examine the ways the classic westerns established "typically restrictive standards for women" (8).

McMahon's essay, "Beating a Live Horse: The Elevation and Degradation of Horses in Westerns," argues that Westerns show us how "humans see traits in horses that they themselves possess but dislike" and, as such, in westerns, horses "become convenient objects upon which to transfer our own self-loathing and exact a psychologically satisfying dynamic of control" (330).

Congrats authors!

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