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“The Sterility of Their Art”: Masculinity and the Western in Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony

“The Sterility of Their Art”: Masculinity and the Western in Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony "The Sterility of Their Art" Masculinity and the Western in Leslie Marmon Silko's Ceremony The US West, Katherine G. Morrissey claims, has become so closely associated with archetypal images of masculinity through the genre of the Western that the landscape itself often functions as a metonym for a "gendered . . . form of American identity" (133). Yet this masculine national identity, codified in Westerns through masculinized landscapes populated by idealized, "macho" heroes, has never been without contention. Many recent iterations of the Western indicate an increasing rift between the image and its discontents. At the contentious borders of the Western genre are many works that both use and challenge the genre's traditional depictions of idealized masculinity. Leslie Marmon Silko's novel Ceremony (1977) provides a particularly incisive example of such a text, as the novel participates in generic conventions while offering a provocative challenge to the Western as a construction of ideological definitions of identity and nationhood. This paper will examine in particular how the novel's protagonist, Tayo, provides a nuanced challenge to the traditional male cowboy hero as he is encoded and disseminated by the narrative patterns and iconic images of the traditional Western. Ceremony does not http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Western American Literature The Western Literature Association

“The Sterility of Their Art”: Masculinity and the Western in Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony

Western American Literature , Volume 49 (3) – Oct 8, 2014

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Publisher
The Western Literature Association
Copyright
Copyright © The Western Literature Association
ISSN
1948-7142
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Abstract

"The Sterility of Their Art" Masculinity and the Western in Leslie Marmon Silko's Ceremony The US West, Katherine G. Morrissey claims, has become so closely associated with archetypal images of masculinity through the genre of the Western that the landscape itself often functions as a metonym for a "gendered . . . form of American identity" (133). Yet this masculine national identity, codified in Westerns through masculinized landscapes populated by idealized, "macho" heroes, has never been without contention. Many recent iterations of the Western indicate an increasing rift between the image and its discontents. At the contentious borders of the Western genre are many works that both use and challenge the genre's traditional depictions of idealized masculinity. Leslie Marmon Silko's novel Ceremony (1977) provides a particularly incisive example of such a text, as the novel participates in generic conventions while offering a provocative challenge to the Western as a construction of ideological definitions of identity and nationhood. This paper will examine in particular how the novel's protagonist, Tayo, provides a nuanced challenge to the traditional male cowboy hero as he is encoded and disseminated by the narrative patterns and iconic images of the traditional Western. Ceremony does not

Journal

Western American LiteratureThe Western Literature Association

Published: Oct 8, 2014

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