NORTH AMERICAN LITERARY STUDIES/Image, Identity and Reality in North American Literature - 2nd semester


a)To develop specific competences regarding North American Literature, namely: communication skills, capacity for critical and interpretative analysis, and be able to contextualize the works under scrutiny.
b)To enhance and expand both the acquisition of knowledge and constructive thinking about the authors and their works.
c) To be able to critically assess the selected literary texts.
d)To develop the competence required to write a final critical essay concerning one or more of the different items of the syllabus.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Isabel Oliveira Martins


Weekly - 3 letivas + 1 tutorial

Total - Available soon

Teaching language



Degree or equivalent


McVeigh, Stephen. 2007. The American Western, Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press.
Deverell, William (Ed.). 2004. A Companion to the American West. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.
Milner, Clyde A. (Ed.). 1996. A New Significance: Re-Envisioning the History of the American West. New York: Oxford University Press.
Slotkin, Richard. 1992. Gunfighter Nation: The Myth of the Frontier in Twentieth-Century America, New York: Harper Perennial.
Bruce, C. (ed.). 1990. Myth of the West, New York: Rizzoli.
Limerick, Patricia Nelson. 1987. The Legacy of Conquest. the Unbroken Past of the American Western, New York: W.W. Norton & Company.
Robertson, J.O. 1980. American Myth, American Reality, New York: Hill and Wang.

Teaching method

Presentation of the various topics by the lecturer accompanied by the students´ reading and discussion of a selection of texts (literary, teoretical or/and film) covering the topics outlined in the syllabus;
Tutorial supervision of the research work related to the final paper chosen by the student.

Evaluation method

Oral presentation on one or more literary work and film (20%); oral and written presentation on one of the theoretical texts (20%); final written essay (60%)

Subject matter

In this seminar we aim to (re)visit the image of the American West in contemporary North American literature, since the end of the Second World War up to the present. We will study the development of a mythical image of the West which will include: the backgrounds (mainly the second half of the 19th century); Imagined West(s); The importance and meaning of the land and America’s sense of itself; Myth/Image versus Reality (physical and human); Male and female role models; The opposition between West and East; and finally the role of Hollywood Westerns.

a)Revis(it)ing the image of the American West in contemporary North American literature, since the end of the Second World War up to the present
b)The development of a mythical image of the West: the backgrounds
c)Imagined West(s)
d)The importance and meaning of the land and America’s sense of itself
e)Myth/Image versus Reality (physical and human)
f)Male and female role models
g)The opposition between West and East
h)The role of the Western
1. Annie Proulx, Close Range: Wyoming Stories (1999); Bad Dirt: Wyoming Stories 2 (2004); Fine Just the Way It Is: Wyoming Stories 2 (2008)
2. Larry McMurtry, The Last Picture Show (1966); Lonesome Dove (1985)
3. E. L. Doctorow, The Book of Daniel (1971)
4. Thomas Berger, Little Big Man (1964)
5. Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West (1985)
6. Jack Schaefer, Shane (1949)
7. Leslie Marmon Silko, Ceremony (1977)
j)Films, TV documentaries and series:
The Wild West (1995)
The Virginian (1962)
Westworld (1973)
Shane (1953)
Pale Rider (1985)
Little Big Man (1970)
My Darling Clementine (1946)
The Last Picture Show (1971)