American Studies HKU School of Modern Languages and Cultures HKU

BA Course

Elective Course
AMER2041 How the West was won: The frontier in American culture and literature 6 credits
The United States grew into a trans-continental nation stretching from the Atlantic to Pacific Oceans as settlers and citizens fixed their attention on frontiers of land and technological ability. In the process, the West was mythologized as a place of economic opportunity and agricultural virtue as well as a battleground to be claimed in the conquest of Native American peoples. In the early nineteenth century, expansion into the West also raised the question of how far slavery would extend and how long its practice would continue. This course looks at representations of the frontier and the West in literature and film. How did the idea of the West inspire people to move progressively inland? What were the politics and aesthetics of living in the frontier in the midst of agricultural innovation, railroad construction, the rise of American cities and suburbs, and the pursuit of valuable raw materials such as oil and gold? How has the West changed over time as the United States looked beyond North America to the Asian Pacific and even beyond the earth to the “final frontier” of space? Through an interdisciplinary approach that includes history, sociology, literature and film, this course charts the dynamically imaginative energy of the West in the United States.
Prerequisite: Nil
Assessment: 100% coursework
(Not on offered in 2021/2022)


American Studies HKU