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A New SignificanceRe-Envisioning the History of the American West$
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Clyde A. Milner

Print publication date: 1997

Print ISBN-13: 9780195100471

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195100471.001.0001

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“A Memory Sweet to Soldiers”: The Significance of Gender

“A Memory Sweet to Soldiers”: The Significance of Gender

(p.255) 8 “A Memory Sweet to Soldiers”: The Significance of Gender
A New Significance

Susan Lee Johnson

Oxford University Press

Gender is a relation of difference and domination constructed such that it appears “natural” in day-to-day life. The American West is historically a place of disrupted gender relations and stunning racial and ethnic diversity, a diversity structured by inequality and injustice. So, studying gender in the West holds promise for the project of denaturalizing gender and dislodging it from its comfortable moorings in other relations of domination. Indeed, in the West as many scholars have represented it, gender has been among the great invisible creators of meaning, perhaps more invisible than race itself, which even in the most predictable, problematic winning-of-the-West narratives has been an explicit, if deeply offensive, analytical theme. To demonstrate this, two texts are considered for critical rereading: Henry Nash Smith's Virgin Land (1950) and Richard Slotkin's The Fatal Environment (1985).

Keywords:   gender, American West, diversity, domination, inequality, injustice, Henry Nash Smith, Richard Slotkin, Virgin Land, The Fatal Environment

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