The Cody Studies digital research platform provides a venue that encourages scholars from a variety of backgrounds to explore William F. Cody’s life and Buffalo Bill’s Wild West as an exemplary piece of Americana during an age of high nationalism. As a field of scholarly inquiry, Cody Studies offers a rich arena for interdisciplinary work that increasingly has come to the attention of scholars in the fields of American Studies and Transatlantic Studies. Edited by Douglas Seefeldt, Senior Digital Editor of The Papers of William F. Cody, and Assistant Professor of History at Ball State University, this project aims to create a new genre of nineteenth-century digital humanities scholarship that examines the long reach of William F. Cody’s life and his expansive connections to the myriad events of that period. Encompassing an era that began with American attempts to secure a continental empire and ended with the nation’s emergence onto the global stage during the WWI years, the Cody Studies platform will foster new scholarly perspectives on the dramatically changing world that he inhabited.
Although the life and times of William F. Cody have long been a subject of interest for scholars, the last decade has witnessed the publication of a number of important projects that have ushered in a new era of rigorous scholarly treatment of the Buffalo Bill phenomenon. Perhaps the key development in the emerging area of Cody Studies has been the founding of The Papers of William F. Cody, launched by the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in 2009. Thanks to The Papers’ efforts to identify and then publish a digital edition of Cody’s papers in one central site—The William F. Cody Archive—researchers have, since 2011, enjoyed the benefit of unprecedented access to textual, visual, and audio materials that will support a new generation of cultural history on topics related to the life and times of Buffalo Bill.
The Cody Studies digital platform will emphasize digital humanities research modules and interpretive digital scholarship exploring Cody’s influence on the development of the American West and the Wild West’s broader cultural contributions. Rather than engaging narrower questions and micro-debates on biographical questions, the project will sponsor scholarship that places Cody’s life and enterprises within the broader contexts of national and regional identity and accounts for the Buffalo Bill phenomenon’s relationship to the defining events of the period.
[Header image source: PN 47.14, McCracken Research Library, Buffalo Bill Center of the West]