The "Wild West"?
The West has always held a special place in American culture. In 1893, Frederick Jackson Turner wrote what is known as the "frontier thesis," arguing that our sense of democracy and hard work has been shaped by experience of survival and growth along the frontier. More than a century later, Americans still idolize the cowboy image and are fascinated by the train robbers, saloons, and violence of the era. How accurate is our mental picture of the "Wild West"? What were the realities of life on the frontier in the late 19th and early 20th century? What was lost and what was gained as America closed out the frontier? Most importantly, why has the West continued to fascinate Americans and play such a prominent role in popular culture?
This learner resource includes images, artifacts, and movies that deal with the concept of the American West. Students will want to read Turner's essay and answer the attached questions. Then, they will focus on choosing images and ideas to include in a movie trailer or poster advertisement that presents a more accurate image of turn of the century western life.Read More »