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NOV 21 ONE BOOK, ONE ND featuring Josh Garrett-Davis

Richly illustrated, primarily from the collection of the Autry Museum of the American West, Josh Garrett-Davis’s work is as visually interesting as it is enlightening, asking readers to consider the American West in new ways.

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Josh Garrett-Davis Josh Garrett-Davis is a writer, historian, and curator. He is the author of Ghost Dances: Proving Up on the Great Plains (Little, Brown) and What Is a Western? Region, Genre, Imagination (University of Oklahoma Press), which won the Outstanding Western Book Award from the Center for the Study of the American West in 2021. His articles and essays have appeared in Western Historical Quarterly, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and numerous other venues. He is the Gamble Associate Curator of Western History, Popular Culture, and Firearms at the Autry Museum of the American West, where he has worked on installations about Indigenous Californians and the environment, the history of incarceration in the West, the water protectors movement at Standing Rock, and museum co-founder Gene Autry. He is currently leading the NEH-funded long-term exhibition project “Imagined Wests.” He was born and raised in South Dakota, and earned an MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia University and a PhD in history from Princeton University. He lives with his wife and daughter in Los Angeles.

What Is a Western?: Region, Genre, Imagination

There’s “western,” and then there’s “Western”—and where history becomes myth is an evocative question, one of several questions posed by Josh Garrett-Davis in What Is a Western? Region, Genre, Imagination. Part cultural criticism, part history, and wholly entertaining, this series of essays on specific films, books, music, and other cultural texts brings a fresh perspective to long-studied topics. Under Garrett-Davis’s careful observation, cultural objects such as films and literature, art and artifacts, and icons and oddities occupy the terrain of where the West as region meets the Western genre. One crucial through line in the collection is the relationship of regional “western” works to genre “Western” works, and the ways those two categories cannot be cleanly distinguished—most work about the West is tinted by the Western genre, and Westerns depend on the region for their status and power. Garrett-Davis also seeks to answer the question “What is a Western now?” To do so, he brings the Western into dialogue with other frameworks of the “imagined West” such as Indigenous perspectives, the borderlands, and environmental thinking. The book’s mosaic of subject matter includes new perspectives on the classic musical film Oklahoma!, a consideration of Native activism at Standing Rock, and surprises like Pee-wee’s Big Adventure and Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax. The book is influenced by the borderlands theory of Gloria Anzaldúa and the work of the indie rock band Calexico, as well as the author’s own discipline of western cultural history.

HND Value Statement

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this {article, book, exhibition, film, program, database, report, Web resource}, do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities or Humanities North Dakota.

However, in an increasingly polarized world, we at Humanities North Dakota believe that being open-minded is necessary to thinking critically and rationally.

Therefore, our programs and classes reflect our own open-mindedness in the inquiry, seeking, and acquiring of scholars to speak at our events and teach classes for our Public University.

To that end, we encourage our participants to join us in stepping outside our comfort zones and considering other perspectives and ideas by being open-minded while attending HND events featuring scholars who hold a variety of opinions, some being opposite of our own held beliefs.

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