This course examines the western movie genre through the lens of what is thought of as the cinema’s special relationship to and place within twentieth century modernity. From the beginnings of narrative cinema through the 1960s, more westerns were made than any other genre, and the iconography and ideology of the western influenced not only other film genres but also spilled over into other aspects of popular culture and even high art. Why was the cinema, the medium that exemplified modernity for so many people around the world, dominated by westerns, a genre set in the past and in the wilderness? How did the western manifest aspects, anxieties, possibilities, and widespread phenomena of twentieth century modernity? We will examine the western’s intersection with modern phenomena, activities, and artforms including tourism, abstract expressionism, feminism, the Baby Boom & television, toys, mining and atomic energy and weapons, and the rise of Las Vegas as a hub for recreational gambling. Written texts will include contemporaneous film reviews and scholarship by the likes of Andre Bazin, Siegfried Kracauer, Robert Warshow, Bosley Crowther, and others. We will also pay special attention to contemporaneous scholarship on the emerging white-collar class and conformist culture, which westerns provided an alternative and respite from. Scholars will include Herbert Marcuse, C. Wright Mills, and William Whyte. We will watch mostly mainstream Hollywood westerns, by John Ford, Nicholas Ray, Andre de Toth, Delmer Daves, Howard Hawks, Samuel Fuller, and others, but independent films, cartoons, television shows, and films set in the present day will also be consulted.