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The Anti-Western: Cormac McCarthy, Carmen Boullosa and the Myth of the American West

March 19 - April 23, 2024, Tuesdays, 6:00-8:00 p.m. (six sessions)
925 SW Washington Street Portland, OR 97205


The Wild West has always been a fiction. The heroic cowboy settling the frontier is a myth. The Western novels of the mid-20th century rewrote genocide & colonialism to justify the existence of the United States. As a needed response, The Anti-Western works to undermine this false history by complexifying & subverting the tropes of classic Western literature. This seminar will study two novels, one novella, & one collection of short stories that contribute to this growing genre of Anti-Westerns. Together, we will use these texts to ask Who has the myth of the American West served? Who has it harmed? & What really happened?

Reading List

Week 1: Texas: The Great Theft by Carmen Boullosa
Week 2: Texas: The Great Theft by Carmen Boullosa & Train Dreams by Dennis Johnson
Week 3: Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
Week 4: Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
Week 5: Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
Week 6: Close Range: Wyoming Stories by Annie Proulx

Access Program
We want our writing classes and Delves to be accessible to everyone, regardless of income and background. We understand that our tuition structure can present obstacles for some people. Our Access Program offers writing class and Delve tuitions at a reduced rate. Most Delves  have at least one access spot available.

Please apply here for access rate tuition. Contact Susan Moore at susan@literary-arts.org if you have questions.

Liaison position
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Apply here for the liaison position.

Delve Cancellation Policy
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Benjamin McPherson Ficklin

Benjamin McPherson Ficklin will never surrender—Benjamin McPherson Ficklin will always love you. They are the author of the novella The West & the collection A Cynical View of Dystopian America. Among various publications of fiction, poetry, & journalism, their work has been recognized in Best Small Fiction 2019 and Best American Essays 2020.
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