Michael K. JohnsonApr 20, 2023
Popular Representations of a Region and Genre
University of Nebraska Press 2023
The Western as a genre is alive and vibrant, argues University of Maine - Farmington professor of English literature Michael K. Johnson. In Speculative Wests: Popular Representations of a Region and a Genre (U Nebraska Press, 2023), Johnson explains how authors, directors, and storytellers are pushing the classic genre into new directions by hybridizing Western tropes with science fiction, horror, and fantasy storytelling. These new speculative Westerns are revitalizing a genre, which has grown incredibly popular in recent years through television series like The Last of Us and Westworld, as well as many examples in film and literature. Speculative Westerns have also allowed space for Native and African American writers and storytellers to expand the genre into more inclusive spaces, telling stories about people often left out or stereotyped in more traditional Western stories. By including time travel, zombies, and vampires, Johnson argues that the Western has cemented itself with a new generation of Americans as one of the critical cultural narratives for understanding the United States.
Dr. Stephen R. Hausmann is an assistant professor of history at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota.