“A Memory Sweet to Soldiers”: The Significance of Gender

Susan Lee Johnson

in A New Significance

Published in print January 1997 | ISBN: 9780195100471
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199854059 | DOI:
“A Memory Sweet to Soldiers”: The Significance of Gender

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Gender is a relation of difference and domination constructed such that it appears “natural” in day-to-day life. The American West is historically a place of disrupted gender relations and stunning racial and ethnic diversity, a diversity structured by inequality and injustice. So, studying gender in the West holds promise for the project of denaturalizing gender and dislodging it from its comfortable moorings in other relations of domination. Indeed, in the West as many scholars have represented it, gender has been among the great invisible creators of meaning, perhaps more invisible than race itself, which even in the most predictable, problematic winning-of-the-West narratives has been an explicit, if deeply offensive, analytical theme. To demonstrate this, two texts are considered for critical rereading: Henry Nash Smith's Virgin Land (1950) and Richard Slotkin's The Fatal Environment (1985).

Keywords: gender; American West; diversity; domination; inequality; injustice; Henry Nash Smith; Richard Slotkin; Virgin Land; The Fatal Environment

Chapter.  14889 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Theory, Methods, and Historiography

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