Call for Papers: Settler Colonial Studies and The Western Genre Western Literature Association Conference, Reno, NV, 14-17 October, 2015


Call for papers: Over the past decade, settler colonial studies has made a broad intervention in the study of US history and culture by considering comparative frontier processes in settler societies around the globe. One arena where settler colonial studies has yet to make significant inroads, however, is in the interpretation of the Western, arguably the most important cultural vehicle through which US and global cultures have mythologized and critiqued the frontier.

On this panel, we will work to relate the genre that is the most globally recognized production of Western American culture to the theoretical conversation that works to contextualize Westward expansion in a comparative global context. In so doing, we hope not only to ask what settler colonial studies can teach us about the Western, but also what the Western can teach us about settler colonialism. Among the questions we hope to explore as we examine the Western in literature and film are:

  • How does the claim, made by many settler colonial studies scholars, that the frontier is a transnational phenomenon rather than a category exclusive to American exceptionalism alter our reading of classic Westerns?
  • What can “Spaghetti Westerns,” “Indo Westerns,” “Osterns” and other Westerns produced in non-settler societies reveal about the impact of settler colonial political forms in these locales?
  • How can we relate the separate discussions regarding liberalism and violence now circulating in settler colonial studies and in scholarship on the Western?
  • How can readings of Western literature and film enrich the ongoing discussions regarding neoliberalism and the history of settlerism?

Lorenzo Veracini, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia. Lorenzo’s research focuses on the comparative history of colonial systems and settler colonialism. He has authored Israel and Settler Society (2006) Settler Colonialism: A Theoretical Overview (2010), and The Settler Colonial Present (2015). Lorenzo is managing editor of Settler Colonial Studies. Contact Lorenzo at:

Alex Trimble Young, University of Southern California. Alex is a Preceptor in Dornsife College, where he teaches American literature. He is currently at work on a book manuscript tentatively entitled Let Us Fake Out A Frontier: Dissent and The Settler Colonial Imaginary in US Literature After 1945. His most recent article, “The Settler Unchained: Constituent Power and Settler Violence,” is forthcoming in Social Text this May. Contact Alex at:

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