From Custer and Geronimo to John Wayne and the Marlboro Man, American notions of masculinity have been deeply interwoven with our ideas about the West. But there's more to the relationship between manhood and the frontier than a simple tale of cowboys and Indians, ruggedness and civilization. In Across the Great Divide some of our leading historians look to both the history of masculinity in the West and to the ways that this experience has been represented in movies, popular music, dimestore novels, and folklore. Ramon Gutierrez ( When Jesus Came, the Corn Mothers Went Away ) describes the culture of machismo in early New Mexico; Susan Lee Johnson ( Roaring Camp ) takes on social life in Gold Rush boom towns; and other contributors introduce us to cross-dressing cowboys, cuckolded husbands hell-bent on revenge, and convicted outlaws walking to the gallows, among other characters. Intriguing, provocative, and important, Across the Great Divide makes us rethink easy assumptions about the nature of American masculinity.
Matthew Basso is a Ph.D. candidate in American Studies at the University of Minnesota.Laura McCall is Associate Professor of History at Metropolitan State College in Denver, and a co-editor of A Shared Experience: Men, Women, and the History of Gender. Dee Garceau is Assistant Professor of History at Rhodes College and the author of The Important Things in Life: Women, Work & Family in Wyoming.