Failed Frontiersmen: White Men and Myth in the Post-sixties American Historical Romance

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University of Virginia Press, 2015 - American fiction - 222 pages

In Failed Frontiersmen, James Donahue writes that one of the founding and most persistent mythologies of the United States is that of the American frontier. Looking at a selection of twentieth-century American male fiction writers--E. L. Doctorow, John Barth, Thomas Pynchon, Ishmael Reed, Gerald Vizenor, and Cormac McCarthy--he shows how they reevaluated the historical romance of frontier mythology in response to the social and political movements of the 1960s (particularly regarding the Vietnam War, civil rights, and the treatment of Native Americans). Although these writers focus on different moments in American history and different geographic locations, the author reveals their commonly held belief that the frontier mythology failed to deliver on its promises of cultural stability and political advancement, especially in the face of the multicultural crucible of the 1960s.

Cultural Frames, Framing Culture
American Literatures Initiative

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About the author (2015)

James J. Donahue, coeditor with Derek C. Maus of Post-Soul Satire: Black Identity after Civil Rights, is Associate Professor of English and Communication at the State University of New York at Potsdam.

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