#32 Wounded Range, Part 2 — Guest Blog by Noah Meernaum

Note from Ay-leen: This is part 2 of Noah Meernaum’s essay about minority representations in Weird West.  Part 1 can be read here. For those interested in the Works Cited resource information for the full essay, please contact me.

7. Occidental Outlines – Asian defacement in American popular periodicals, run from the story papers and bound ‘yellow-backs’, to the periled portrayals wrapped in America pulp. 1

For even as the Occident regards the Far East, so does the Far East regard the Occident, – only with this difference: that what each most esteems in itself is least likely to be esteemed by the other.–Lafcadio Hearn/ Koizumi Yakumo, Kokoro 2

The stereotyped imprint of Chinese immigrants was initially contentedly rendered in the pictured accounts in mid-nineteenth century America through publications such as Harper’s New Monthly in the 1850’s that showed the distinctive pig-tail and conical basin hat of “John Chinaman’” and this picturesque “Celestial” was a widespread Western rendition in American periodicals, drawn from imparted occidental accounts of the “mystical men of the Orient”. 3 With the increased influx of Chinese people entering the American west, specifically within California, in search of golden prospects, promises of abundant land, and industrious opportunity their expanding population was leading to unsettling the sedate Western imprint of removed mysticism shown of oriental representation as the advancing closeness of Chinese residents were informing fearful features upon its distantly complacent cast.

By 1875 there were two to four thousand Chinese residents in the western states of Idaho, Montana, Nevada and Oregon and in 1882, (the year prior to the Chinese Exclusion Act), the recorded amount was listed as 39,579 Chinese people arriving in America. The increasing number of Chinese ‘nationals’ led to vehement published responses rife with vile racist condemnation such as San Francisco Governor Bigler’s public recall of “coolies” and pressing circulation for exclusion. 4 Subsequent ‘yellow fever’ was impressed by devilish descriptions of Chinese men being “long-tailed, horned and cloven inhabitants of the infernal regions” and these monstrous images of infernally invading Chinese people arriving and residing in America in the 1800’s led to escalating physical violence and continued divisive contempt. 5

Further racist labels were affixed to these malicious Western impressions running from “China Boys’” to “heathen Chinee”, mockingly refrained or shaded with sinister under lit renditions that portrayed them as sharply smiling “yellow devils’”6 The two main fictional impressions of male Chinese characters wildly concocted by Anglo-American artists or writers were odiously and risibly typecast, either as the jolly servant or contained laborer, along with the impishly grinning mystic ‘Mongol’ becoming indelibly stamped and pressed in reams of accorded fictional accounts set in and around the storied American west far into the nineteenth century. 7

These crass concoctions of Chinese characters were further dreadfully wrought within the western or weird pulp fictions where their ‘oriental’ cast was overtly mashed or mangled with other comic and serpentine “yellow peril” caricatures that mendaciously rent Japanese, Korean, or Filipino features splicing their individual aspects with sharply exaggerated forms.8 Chinese women when they were represented, (they were largely invisible or muted in the story papers and dime novel renditions), became shyly cloaked in their ‘celebrated’ silk or ceremonial attire with the noted painted face and token diminutive feet of the bound female with the coy smirk leading to the slinky shimmering “Dragon Lady” ‘shanghaied’ or stripped in the pulps and shamelessly raked through countless “yellow-backs”. 9 As with the fictive formulaic ‘Oriental’ male mold, Female Chinese characters were often grouped as “seductive snakes” or given cross Asiatic surnames.

8. Decrying Defacement – Unique Asian-American contributions revealed within and beyond the past Western fictional formations covering the American west that often entertained estrangements toward the East.

In the introduction to the informative collection Aiiieeeee!: An Anthology of Asian American Writers the editors address the recorded fact that,

“In the 140- year history of Asian American history fewer than ten works of fiction and poetry have been published by American-born Chinese, Japanese, and Filipino writers.” 1

The implication of this related number stated by the editors is that Asian Americans do not have an impulse to artistic or literary expression. 2 This as they further expose is a deceptive fallacy, as writers such as the English born Eurasian Edith Maude Eaton embracing the pseudonym of Sui Sin Far wrote and published fiction in the nineteenth century involving Chinese characters with insight and empathy conveyed in her short story collections such as Mrs. Spring Fragrance (1912), that reflects upon a singular voice through specific descriptions of Chinese people toward their western experience in California or on the Pacific Coast. 3 The stated aim within this collection is to highlight Asian-American voices that have largely been ignored or overturned by the past popular press in America, being maliciously overwritten or reworded with the assumptive ‘divided allegiances’ or cultural suppositions as envisioned by Anglo Americans or Asian Americans who alter their writing ‘accordingly’, (whom the editors refer to as “yellow goons”), allowing directorial demands to fondly interpret or properly convey the expected difficulties or inherent manners of Asian American existence.4 Of particular relevance within is Shawn Hsu Wong’s “Each Year Grain” (1974), and Wakako Yamauchi’s “And the Soul Shall Dance” (1974). 5 Recent fictional contributions relating an alternative view are Yoshiko Uchida’s Picture Bride (1997), and the reprinted reflection by Maxine Hong Kingston drawing upon the oral history of Chinese tales, (“talk-stories”), to interpret the haunting pale surrounds of the west in The Warrior Woman: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts (1975, reprint 1989).

In regards to current reference regarding singular Chinese experience within nineteenth-century America, Ruthanne Lum McCunn’s Chinese American Portraits: Personal Histories 1828-1988 (1996) and editors Phillip P.Choy, Lorraine Dong, and Marlon K. Hom’s The Coming Man: 19th Century American Perceptions of the Chinese are two informative sources (1995).

9. Pale Ghosts and Broader Frontiers – The pervasive pall of a pale cast upon western fiction and other popular story bound forms imagining the Weird Western, with acknowledgment for extended relations.

As stated previously this essay does not propose a complete recounting of the past cultural disarticulation rendered through these collective fictions wound as the Weird West. This essay has only presented a part of the vast body of multicultural writings that exist in which white Western editors or writers often formulaically romanticize, deface, or delimit; a more complete rendering would require a novel extension. Likewise,the particular relations outlined here, as in the cultural collections cited previously, are a fraction of the expansive range of African American or Latin American literature informing the Weird Western. The pointed portions related, while aimed to openly impart, are not all encompassing. The various passages that are entered are intended for extended exploration involving the significant contributions each culture conveys toward the sizeable formation of the Weird Western.

Bringing to the fore here as a recommended form of non-fiction related to the enriched involvement of African-Americans in the west, Quintard Taylor’s In Search of the Racial Frontier: African Americans in the American West 1528-1990 (1999) is an in depth source resultant of a five year study. 1 The fictional anthology The African American West: A Century of Short Stories (2000) edited by Bruce A. Glasrud and Laurie Champion presents a far ranging contribution toward the history of the particular writers contributing to this vital fictional form. Specifically involved with this shortened, (but no less potent), outline is Maurice Broaddus short story “Black Frontiers” and Lawana Holland-Moore’s “Breath of Life” in editor Brandon Massey’s Voices from the Other Side, Dark Dreams II (2006). Broaddus is projected to explore a further path in “Trail’s End” within the anthology Dead West: 13 Tales of Murder and Mayhem (2010). 2 A personal novel favorite is Percival Everett’s rousing God’s Country (2006) that defies the formulaic arrangement of the American west. One of the most prominent African-American writers in turn of the century America was Charles Waddell Chestnutt (1858-1832) and his short stories “The Conjure Woman” (1899) and “The Wife of his Youth and Other Stories of the Color Line” (1899) informed his novel The House Behind the Cedars (1900). 3

In The Frontier Experience and the American Dream: Essays on American Literature (1989) edited by David Mogen, Mark Busby, and Paul Bryant two essays represent insight into Chicano culture and the dividing frontier between Anglo Americans literary interpretation of Mexican Americans, one is Joan Penzenstadler’s “La frontera, Aztlán, el barrio: Frontiers in Chicano Literature” and Rudolfo A. Anaya’s “An American Chicano in King Arthur’s Court”. One novel recommendation of a translated account of the west by a Chicano writer is Nash Candelaria’s Not by the Sword (1982) and Victor Villaseñor’s second novel in his Rain of Gold trilogy, Wild Steps of Heaven (1997) is reminiscent of author Gabriel García Márquez wondrous prose. As a counter to Villaseñor’s vision is Juan Rulfo’s vivid El llano en llamas (1953) translated as The Burning Plain: and other stories (1953). The anthology Fire from the Andes: Short Fiction by Women from Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru (1998), translated by Susan F. Benner and Kathy S. Leonard presents an extended alternate view of female voices in this region.

10. Clamorous Carriages: A thunderous racket thus smote the west!

Singling out some prime dime novel instigators driving the collective desires to justly edify and tame the Wild West, the weirdly inventive machinations of the quick-witted American was fueled by the resourceful contraptions run in Edward S. Ellis’s “Steam Man of the Prairies” (1869), conducted by a wily boy genius. 1 This model youth was an embodiment of Thomas Alva Edison, whose imaginative fire and individual gumption was electrifying the current American will in the nineteenth century and was infusing a directly determined character to copy. 2 These curious concoctions would jointly become known as “Edisonades” and be conveyed further in “Frank Reade and His Steam Man of the Plains“(1876), written by Harry Enton (a pseudonym of Harold Cohen). 3 Fueled by an industrial and mechanistic fervor plotted to incite, (or placate), the engineered expansion of the American west these ‘riveting’ tales were rampant with jingoisms and empire fired designs.

Frank Tousey’s Five Cent Wide Awake Library published in 1880 purported a whiz kid who hoisted his innumerable inventions such as his “air ship” and “electric coach” upon far flung locales, (including the vast unknown American frontier), to daringly confound, (and subsequently cultivate), its “unruly natives”. 4 These curious carriages would be further flown in “Frank Reade, The Inventor, Chasing the James Boys With His Steam Train” (1889), that was published under the heading of The New York Detective Library, leading to a confluence of three subgenres, detective, science fiction, (known primarily then as speculative fiction), and the western. 5 While the proposition of pitting lone desperadoes against marshaled forces was at that time part and parcel of the western, the outwitting of advanced technological marvels, (or detectives aided by them), compounded the individual iron will of the defying outlaws armed only with their two guns, (in this case four), and steadfast stance to face the unnatural calamity head on, (preferably with steely eyes).

11. Sympathetic Shadows–Pale shades of the guides of Native Americans in the American dime novel and other enfolded forms.

Prior to the aforementioned melded tale, the designation of detective within the western was also well trod. James Fenimore Cooper’s flitting go-between Natty Bumpo was dubbed Hawkeye for his keen scouting sight, Seth Jones for his similar shrewd ability to track the slightest trace on the trail, and the masked outlaw hunter Deadwood Dick spurred on in his relentless reclamation to clear his and others good name, (who was that white masked man?).1 These close relations were obvious pale reflections of the Native American guides or scouts, whom in Hawkeye and Jones were drawn to their unique abilities ‘allowing’ a transferred bond toward a shared insight into understanding the “hidden ways of the noble savage” 2. In this last masqueraded spirit listed there is a particular gothic shadow thrown, not only banded over his eyes, yet prominent in the floating titles hovering on the cover, (headed with irony), that carried into the exploits of his redemptive deeds within “Deadwood Dick’s Double or the Ghost of Gorgon’s Gulch” (1809). 3

12. Haunting Remainders– “How we ever gonna git rid of this here ghost?”

There are a mass bulk of bounded stories tied to the dime novel that filled countless reams of slotted stereotypes set to directly appease or entertain, compared to the actual American west, covering its authentic atrocities with opaque inventions. A successful collective literary salve may obscure, (while seeking to succor), any Old World wounds while concurrently desiring to ingeniously cover over its expansive complicity in defending contested ground—attempting to put to rest any material qualms over an intentional part of a dubious past. Taken as a whole then, these accumulated escapist fictions may be absorbed as a lingering material body, replacing a vanished American west that—as a dying curse within a dreaded dime novel—enduringly haunts the various realms of its branded fictional forms that have been denounced as lowly literature from the dime novel to the paperback.

13. Rejoined Reclamations or Decisive Tampering? – Literary forms held with superstitious certainty? What’s the real holdup in re-mending the past split concoctions into current commingled multicultural forms of the Weird Western? 1

Not a wholly original pronouncement is put forth here in stating that the lingering remains of the dime novel and its pulpy residue still clings to its current fictional descendants exploring the Weird Western, and the writers, (and artists), who are presently immersed in this muck are very aware of its tarried taint. To disentangle or loosen the mired settings surrounding the Weird Western entails a distinct disruptive method. For example, Chippewa-novelist and poet Gerald Vizenor continually shifts the static surrounds of the conventional strange swamp through his “trickster narratives” that seek to infuse, through multiple discourse and “mixedblood” characters, a contrary literary form that flips or inverts the inset terminal traps. 2 Lelsie Marmon Silko, another author of mixed ancestry draws upon her experience as a Laguna Pueblo Native American weaving in traditional tribal tales within her blended stories that often address the scripted conflict between Anglo and Native relations. Silko’s melded fiction such as Ceremony (1977) and the stirring Almanac of the Dead (1991) offers insightful rejoinders upon the known demarcated lines that are incessantly inherent toward continuing past disparate relations.

The meddlesome tellers, such as Joe R. Lansdale and Tim Truman, understand the stain and stigma surrounding these popular American confabulations—that is, the stereotyped forms that are still set in service, defended by playful denial or expended as laughable fictional fodder for the sake of harmless entertainment. The crafty creators of the current generation, however, appear to bring multiple perspectives toward their warped handling of the Weird Western, perhaps alerted to its pervasive wounded presence that has been absorbed into the American consciousness grinding with its own material instability.

These mercurial authors and illustrators seek to reach beyond the designated boundaries of their maligned mediums or work within its ‘respectable’ fictive forms, such as Percival Everett and Cormac McCarthy have in their novel reordering that renders or shreds solid outlines. At times these writers employ biting parody to jar or poke at its familiar malingering cast of characters, or use other ways to insert diverse revisionist parts, (in order to present another view), or reverse expected roles to mix up the familiar genre formulas. Perhaps the most important element added appears to be the considerable allusive care the related authors endeavor to admix or dissolve the given outlines of the Weird Western, merging this often abused and flawed genre beyond its comminute section or consigned script in Americas fictional past. Whereas these weird winding ‘worders’ would have it otherwise, a recombined collection of oddly outpoured offerings conjoined of a continuous commingled current.

Notes for Part 2 of Wounded Range:

7. Occidental Outlines

  1. The story paper and “yellow-backs” are two of the published forms in nineteenth-century America printed between 1840 and 1890. Scholar Michael Denning has defined the form of the story paper as “an eight page weekly newspaper, which cost five or six cents, and contained anywhere from five to eight serialized stories, as well as correspondence, brief sermons, humor, fashion advice and bits of arcane knowledge” The term ‘yellow-backs’ is designated by Denning as being a colloquial description of the American dime novel, a 4-inch-by-6-inch pamphlet bound of around 100 pages roughly formatted on cheap pulp paper by the publishing firm of Beadle and Adams  in the 1860’s. See Denning “The Figure of the Dime Novel in American Culture” in Mechanic Accents: Dime Novels and Working-Class Culture in America (London, New York: Verso, 1987) pp.10-11. The citing of periled portrayals refers to the idiom ‘yellow peril’ which is traditionally traced back to turn-of-the-century anti-Asian agitation in America, yet has been studied to be of a long running racial form that academic Collen Lye has stressed is cast of an earlier Asian stereotype asserting that “this figure already manifested itself in the late-nineteenth century rhetoric of both those who opposed and supported Chinese “cheap labor” immigration”. See Lye “The Minority Which is Not One” in America’s Asia: Racial Form and American Literature, 1893-1945 (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2005) p.5. William Wu in his comprehensive study, The Yellow Peril: Chinese Americans in American Fiction 1850-1940 (Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, 1982), extends further upon the past and projected American literary representations of Chinese Americans within this period studying the setting and continuance of an imagined ‘yellow peril’ impression.
  2. Lafcadio Hearn Kokoro: Hints and Echoes of Japanese Inner Life (Lafcadio Hearn Library) (v.4, paperback) (IBC Muse, 2002). Lafcadio Hearn – b. 1850/ Koizumi Yakumo – d.1904, was one of the leading Occidental writers of the nineteenth century and his translations of Japanese folktales, and immersion in Japanese culture presents a unique insight and studied involvement. For more information see http://www.mlahanas.de/Greeks/NewLiteratur/PatrickLafcadioHearn.html (accessed 06/18/10).iHidHis
  3. A major source of the information in this section is informed from the essay by Egbert S. Oliver “The Pig-Tailed China Boys out West” in Western Humanities Review 12 (Spring, 1958): 159-77. Another informative source referenced is Ronald T. Takaki “The Heathen Chinese and American Technology”, Chapter X, in his comparative study of racial domination focusing on devised industrial factors, such as the utilization of the Western capitalistic press in nineteenth-century American society within Iron Cages: Race and Culture in Nineteenth-Century America (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1979) pp. 215-249.
  4. Regarding the intentionally inciting term “coolies” remarked by Governor Bigler see Oliver, p.161. Ronald T. Takaki explores the precedent for this derisive label toward Chinese immigrants as an extensible-reprinted denouncement drawn from prior racial degradation run in the Anglo press of the nineteenth century representing Africans and Indians. See Takaki, “Ah Sin in America”, Iron Cages, pp. 216-220.
  5. Oliver, p. 161. For an expansive relation of escalating violence toward Chinese residents in nineteenth-century America see pp. 168-171. Also Takaki “A Yellow Proletariat: Caste and Class in Industrial America”, Iron Cages, pp. 229-240 and Chapter X, p.248.
  6. The term ‘China Boys’ alluded to the complacent or docile Western conception of Chinese residents in nineteenth-century America. See Oliver, pp. 162-163. The racist phrase “heathen Chinee” was spitefully inset in Bret Harte’s acrimonious poetical refrain published within the Overland Monthly in 1870 to deride the Chinese character of Ah Sin. Ronald T. Takaki has stated that Harte’s massively reprinted poetic disdain at that time was a racist recitation that “imprinted the phrase Heathen Chinee in the mind of white America”. Takaki, Iron Cages, pp. 222-223. “Yellow Devils” is a xenophobic term compounded of the Anglo-American descriptive cast of Chinese skin such as Bret Harte’s color contrasting Chinese “yellow” with “white” Anglo features through his disporting Chinese character Wan Lee’s “dark” difference in Harte’s story “Wan Lee, the Pagan” Takaki, Chapter X, p.226. Further connections to this term were bound up in the Anglo fear in nineteenth-century America of Chinese miners sneakily taking gold and depositing it back to China, while the Chinese remained to undercut Anglo labor. See Takaki, pp.243-245.
  7. Preceding the popularity of the dime novel in nineteenth-century America and concurrently competing alongside its pulpy pamphlet was the sectioned story paper. Through these short stories and colorful commentary carried in its widely published pliant pages the conflicting representation of Chinese character was continually run, carrying into novel formats such as Ignatius Donnelly’s Caesar’s Column (1890), and passed onto pulps past the turn-of-the-century such as The Mysterious Wu-Fang. Bret Harte’s injudicious “Wan Lee, the Pagan” and “See Yup” though couched as sympathetic relations by Harte to Chinese injustice he conveyed the vile images of the Chinese as mice-eaters, “pagan,” “dark,” “impish,” “superstitious.” and “yellow” perpetuating the negative stereotype of the devious and subservient “Chinaman”. Takaki, pp.225-227 and p.249.
  8. For a writ continuation and graphic cover of a pulp story carrying the Chinese stereotype see William P. McGivern “Manchu Terror” in Tony Goodstone, ed. Fifty Years of American Pop Culture (New York: Chelsea House, 1970) p. 24-29. Cover, Fig. 8. For further ‘Oriental’ male monstrosities in the same volume see Fig. 66 (“Mr. Shen of Shensi”), Fig.99 (The Mysterious Wu Fang), and the ‘orientation’ of the female in Fig. 54.
  9. The term “Dragon Lady” is a misogynistic Western stereotype describing or depicting East Asian women as deceitful, domineering, mean or mysterious. The visible racial caricature of the “Dragon Lady” was further denoted and outlined by Milton Caniff in the 1930’s in his comic strip Terry and the Pirates and expansively became part of American popular slang and stereotypical treatments thereafter. While the specific label was not defined until Caniff’s ‘comic’ application, it was previously outlined in the fictional rendering of Lai Choi San a Cantonese woman who was portrayed by author Aleko Lilius as “queen of the pirates” in his I Sailed with Chinese Pirates (1930). Past fictional sources that shaped the formation of this xenophobic form were rendered in Sax Rohmer’s ‘Fu Manchu’ series first serialized in 1912-13 and reprinted in the 1930’s, particularly Rohmer’s novel sequel The Daughter of Fu Manchu (1931) that inspired the subsequent film Daughter of the Dragon. See Sheridan Prasso “The Asian Mystique: Dragon Ladies, Geisha Girls, & Our Fantasies of the Orient (New York: Public Affairs, For information regarding Milton Caniff see R.C. Harvey Meanwhile…A Biography of Milton Caniff (Seattle: Fantagraphics Books, 2007).

8. Decrying Defacement

  1. Frank Chin, Jeffery Paul Chan, Lawson Fusao Inada, and Shawn H. Wong eds. “An Introduction to Chinese and Japanese Literature” in Aiiieeeee!: An Anthology of Asian American Writers (Washington, D.C.: Howard University Press, 1974, New York: Penguin Group, First Mentor Printing, paperback, 1991) p. 3. One Asian American artist personally re-discovered within the research for this essay is the Filipino American Tony DeZuniga, the principal graphic illustrator involved with the creation of DC comics Weird Western Tales in 1972. http://www.alanguilan.com/museum/dezuniga.html (accessed 06/15/10).
  2. Chin et al. eds. Aiiieeeee! p. 3.
  3. Ibid. Also see http://bookdragonreviews.files.wordpress.com/2009/09/what-do-i-read-next.pdf and Edith Eaton/Sui Sin Far http://www.imdiversity.com/villages/asian/history_heritage/archives/ling_eatons_sisters.asp (accessed 06/20/10).
  4. Wong “Each Year Grain” and Yamauchi “And The Soul Shall Dance” in Chin, et al.,eds., Aiiieeeee!, pp. 259-265 (Wong) and pp. 285-294 (Yamauchi).

9.Pale Ghosts and Broader Frontiers

  1. For additional information of African Americans in the nineteenth-century America west See JF Buckley “(Re) Imaging (Anglo) America’s West” http://english.mansfield.ohio-state.edu/articles/events9.htm (accessed 06/20/10).
  2. http://bandersnatchbooks.com/bandersnatch/2010/05/23/dead-west-teaser/ (accessed 06/20/10).
  3. http://docsouth.unc.edu/southlit/chesnutthouse/summary.html (accessed 06/20/10).
  4. For further information see Felipe de Ortego y Gasca “Chicano Writers and the Art of the Novel” Somos en escrito: The Latino Online Literary Magazine, 11/20/09 http://ollin.com/somos/blog1.php/2009/11/20/title (accessed 06/19/10). Also http://ic.ucsc.edu/~ksgruesz/ltel150b/MoreReading.html (accessed 06/20/10)

10. Clamorous Carriages

  1. The main source for this section is referenced from Bill Brown “Frank Reade, The Inventor, Chasing the James Boys With His Steam Train” in Reading the West: An Anthology of Dime Westerns (Boston, New York: Bedford Books, 1997) pp.359-362.
  2. Ibid, p.360.
  3. Ibid, p.360. For an additional relation regarding the term “Edisonade” see Josh Nevins “Introduction: The 19th-Century Roots of Steampunk” in Ann & Jeff Vandermeer, eds. Steampunk (San Francisco: Tachyon Publishing, 2008). In regards to the irony of the fictional double of Deadwood Dick, this refers to the gothic element and also to the fact that the actual personage of Deadwood Dick was Nat Love who adopted the name a year prior to the publication of the Beadle character. See JF Buckley,“(Re) Imaging (Anglo) America’s West” http://english.mansfield.ohio-state.edu/articles/events9.htm (accessed 06/20/10).
  4. Ibid, pp.359-360.
  5. Ibid, pp.360-362.

11. Sympathetic Shadows

  1. Bill Brown, Reading the West, p. 361. Also “Identity and Disguise” pp. 36-38. The masked man refers to the character Deadwood Dick, yet also the following fictive Lone Ranger.
  2. Brown, “Conflict and Concealment”, Reading the West, pp. 32-34.
  3. Brown, Figure 6, Reading the West, p.12. The portrayal of the  double is a recurring element in gothic fiction that though viewed to be separate from American western fiction has been studied to be enduringly linked. See James K. Folsom “Gothicism in the Western Novel” in David Mogen, Scott P. Sanders, and Joanne B. Karpinski, eds. Frontier Gothic: Terror and Wonder at the Frontier in American Literature (London and Toronto: Associated University Press, 1993) pp. 28-41.


13. Rejoined Reclamations or Decisive Tampering?

  1. The obvious play on words inset within the subheading is an intentional reflection on the section number being 13, linking the ongoing involvement of gothic elements interlocking American western fiction. The overt term holdup further signifies the bound state as an integral part of its fixed design.
  2. Gerald Vizenor though seemingly outside of the conventional bounds of the Weird Western, constantly works to dispel any past denotations positioning or separating American fiction/mythology from either Anglo or Native preset certainties surrounding the literary or coined construct of the “invented Indian”. Vizenor in his combined unlinings seeks to shed the divisive myths; both of Western native constructs and Native American purity by blending and infusing his “mixedblood” characters that are often clowns or “contrardancers”, reflective of the in/evasive trickster.  These melded forms negate the traditional narrative and definite outlines of a specific order. For an extended journey see Darkness in Saint Louis Bearheart (Minneapolis, MN: Truck Press, 1978). A reprint of Visenor’s book is also available as a new edition entitled Bearheart: The Heirship Chronicles, with an afterword by Louis Owens (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1990). Also Louis Owens,‘“Grinning Aboriginal Demons”: Gerald Vizenor’s Bearheart and the Indian’s Escape from Gothic’ in David Mogen, et al, eds. Frontier Gothic, pp 71-83.


Noah Meernaum practices and employs a variety of aesthetic methods, working part-time in a esteemed art gallery, while pursuing the additional arts of illustrating, and writing.



Filed under Essays, History

6 responses to “#32 Wounded Range, Part 2 — Guest Blog by Noah Meernaum

  1. Pingback: #32 Wounded Range, Part 2 — Guest Blog by Noah Meernaum « Beyond … | Artist News

  2. jeff vandermeer

    Excellent, excellent piece! I might add that in looking for images related to steampunk retro tech to adorn our steampunk reloaded it became sadly obvious that Chinese and other Asian pictorial representations in Western Europe and the US were for the most part grossly racist. Those Edisonades, though. Wow. No holds barred racism there–perhaps more disturbing because it was couched in the language and storylines of adventures for teen boys, really. For the original content for Steampunk Reloaded we have repurposed one of these Edisonades within the context of quoting from the original so readers understand the POV of the source material. The stories are so un-ironic that as is noted above several writers have used them as fertile ground for satire and social commentary.

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