2009 Summer School: The American West
The Rockford Institute’s 12th Annual Summer School
The American West
July 7-12, 2009
Robert Frost held that Americans only became American in the process of fighting wars and moving west. So much of the American identity, in fact, finds its origins in the frontier experience, that the mythology that resulted thrived in fiction and film long after the frontier disappeared.
The stories from “America’s Homeric age” are tales of conflict: the conflict of man against nature, of course, but also the North-South conflict explored in Owen Wister’s The Virginian and played out in the real-life escapades of the Jameses and Youngers and in the Gunfight at the OK Corral. Films such as High Noon, Shane, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance explore the conflict between families establishing communities and the individualism and anarchy of bold and rootless men escaping their past.
Finally, a more thorough understanding of the American identity can come from consideration of ethnic conflicts in the West and of conflicting religious visions. Alongside all of these are the gunfighters, gamblers, con artists, and gold-mining millionaires, and the writers and humorists who have grappled with the West and contributed to its legends: Bret Harte, Owen Wister, Mark Twain, Frederick Jackson Turner, Francis Parkman, and Robert Louis Stevenson.
- Thomas Fleming (bio)
- James Patrick (bio)
- Fr. Hugh Barbour, O.Praem. (bio)
- Clyde N. Wilson
- Chilton Williamson, Jr.
- Roger D. McGrath
- The Rockford Institute
928 N. Main St.
Rockford, IL 61103