Classical notions of the West and associated images, symbols, and values retain their appeal for an important number of Americans, as well as engaging the imagination of an international audience. However, despite the resilience of the myth, it may be argued that an increasing number of artistic portraits of the American West debunk traditional mythology, rejecting at the same time extreme reductionism to simplistic binary oppositions, such as the one between myth and reality. Instead, the main emphasis is on the West as a complex, interrelated, unfinished, and plural space, consisting of multiple meanings and often intercultural experiences and identities. In this globalized age of trans-oceanic studies the international and hybrid properties of western American culture have become more visible than ever. Most of the essays in this book support this shift towards transnational frameworks, both challenging reductionist regional and national perspectives and vindicating the point of view of the outsider. Adopting transnational perspectives does not mean neglecting the importance of regional and local studies that testify to the multiple and overlapping cultures and literatures existing in the American West. The book embraces a diverse literary western landscape, aiming to mediate between the regional and the global in order to understand a literature that, after all, claims to be both exceptional and universal. This volume also extends the analysis of western iconography to other artistic manifestations than writing, adopting primarily a postwestern approach
David Rio is Professor of American Literature at the University of the Basque Country in Vitoria-Gasteiz (Spain). He is the author of El proceso de la violencia en la narrativa de Robert Penn Warren (1995) and Robert Laxalt: The Voice of the Basques in American Literature (2007). He has co-edited Aztlán: Ensayos sobre literatura chicana (2001), American Mirrors: (Self) Reflections and (Self) Distortions (2005), Exploring the American Literary West: International Perspectives (2006) and the special issue of the European Journal of American Studies on “Postfrontier Writing” (2011). He has also published articles on contemporary western American literature, southern literature, and Basque American authors in journals such as Western American Literature, Studies in the Literary Imagination, American Studies International and The International Fiction Review. He is also the general editor of Portal Education series on the American Literary West.
Amaia Ibarraran is a lecturer at the UPV/EHU since 1999, where she has been teaching contemporary North American Literature and Literature and Minorities. Her research has always been focused on the study of Chicano Literature, and she has published several articles and attended national and international conferences on this field. Her current research deals with the literary production of the new generation of Chicano writers as well as with the study of other forms of artistic and cultural expression produced by the Chicano community.
Martin Simonson studied English philology and translation at the University of the Basque Country in Vitoria, Spain, and holds a Ph.D. from the same university with a dissertation on the narrative dynamics of The Lord of the Rings. He has contributed with essays on fantastic literature in many journals and anthologies, and he has published a full-length study on the interaction of narrative genre in Tolkien’s literature titled The Lord of the Rings and the Western Narrative Tradition (Walking Tree Publishers 2008). He has translated several Swedish novels into Spanish, including the works of Jens Lapidus and Jonas Hassen Khemiri, as well as essays on North American history, such as Nelson Johnson’s Boardwalk Empire. Martin’s current research is focused on American and English nature writing and literature of place. He is currently teaching English and Cultural Studies at the MA programme for comparative literature at the University of the Basque Country.
Western American Literature
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