CFP: Branding the American West Symposium

Janalee Emmer's picture
Call for Papers
March 4, 2016 to March 5, 2016
Utah, United States
Subject Fields: 
American History / Studies, Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Cultural History / Studies, Film and Film History, Native American History / Studies

The Brigham Young University Museum of Art announces an upcoming symposium to be held Friday and Saturday, March 4-5, 2016, in conjunction with the exhibition “Branding the American West: Paintings and Films 1900-1950,” an exhibition jointly organized by the BYU Museum of Art and the Stark Museum of Art, Orange, Texas.

This interdisciplinary symposium seeks to expand upon the exhibition and broadly examine the ‘branding’ of the American West in its various manifestations.  How was the West continually (re)defined and (re)branded in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries? What was the relationship between portrayals of the Wild West in artwork and film? How was the West marketed to different groups and geographic regions, particularly after Frederick Jackson Turner announced the frontier “closed” in 1893? How do considerations of race and gender influence our understanding of this period?

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Understanding the West through the lens of Native Americans, Latin Americans, African Americans, Asian Americas, and other races
  • Evolution of Western legends and lore over time
  • The Wild West as portrayed in film, art, literature, and other media
  • Women of the West
  • The West as exported to other countries
  • Stereotypes and caricatures of the West as promoted and refuted in art and film
  • The West as constructed though travel and tourism
  • Twentieth-century nostalgia for an imagined past
  • The impact of modernization and new technology on Western culture

We will consider all relevant papers from fields of art history, history, literary studies, American studies, humanities, social studies, media studies, music, or other related areas.   

The keynote speaker for the Symposium will be Phil Deloria, the Carroll Smith-Rosenberg Collegiate Professor of American Culture and History at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.  Dr. Deloria is a historian of Native American, Western American, and environmental history.  He is the author of Playing Indian (1999) and Indians in Unexpected Places (2004), among many other publications and awards.

The plenary speaker will be Leo G. Mazow, an associate professor at the University of Arkansas, where he teaches courses in American art and cultural history. He has published on George Inness, New York Dada, regionalist painting, and the senses in American Art. His book, Thomas Hart Benton and the American Sound (Penn State University, 2012), received the Charles C. Eldridge Prize for outstanding scholarship in the field of American Art.

Symposium papers will be 20 minutes and the deadline for submissions is Oct. 30, 2015.  Accepted papers will be notified by end of November.  Graduate student papers welcome. Please send abstracts of no more than 500 words and a c.v. to Dr. Janalee Emmer, Head of Education, BYU Museum of Art:


Contact Info: 

Janalee Emmer, Head of Education at the Brigham Young University Museum of Art

Contact Email: