William Cody performed throughout Italy in 1890 and again in 1906; his popularity encouraged the translation of American dime novels, and later, of novels and fumetti (similar to dime novels), written by Italian authors. This presentation examines the factors shaping the reception and translation of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West’s American iconography from his initial performance in 1890 to the 1939 introduction of the “Buffalo Bill: The Italian Hero of the Prairies.” Rather than a straightforward process of Americanization, the concerns of the new Italian state confronting the challenges of modernity contributed to Cody’s memory being embraced, rebuffed and reconfigured. In 1939, the familiar hero, Buffalo Bill, became co-opted into the service of Italian nationalism, as the Fascist regime appropriated his contributions to US colonization of the frontier West and applied them to further the Italian imperialist agenda in Ethiopia.
The C-SPAN 3 broadcast of our panel discussion is now online :
A roundtable discussion featuring Jeremy Johnston, Buffalo Bill Center of the West; Douglas Seefeldt, Ball State University; Frank Christianson, Brigham Young University; Michelle Delaney, Smithsonian Institution; and Riva Freifeld, Documentary Filmmaker. Fifty-Fourth Annual Conference of the Western History Association, Newport Beach, CA, October 17, 2014.
This 90-minute coverage provides an overview of the diverse activities of The Papers, outlining completed, ongoing, and future projects. One highlight appears beginning at minute 17.50 in the broadcast … a very brief digital representation of the 552 venues in which Buffalo Bill’s Wild West performed during the three British/European tours of the exhibition.
The Papers of William F. Cody/William F. Cody Archive welcomes you to view this panel discussion and invites your valuable questions or comments!
Renee Laegreid, an assistant professor in the Department of History at University of Wyoming, presented her talk entitled “Buffalo Bill’s Legacy: Finding the West and Westerners in Contemporary Italy” at Saturday University in Gillette, WY on October 26, 2013. Buffalo Bill crossed the boundaries of the Atlantic to bring the American West to Europe, and over one hundred years later, pieces of his West not only remain, but have become increasingly apparent. This paper addresses the persistence of Buffalo Bill and his Wild West shows in the collective memory of Italians, and how the memory of Buffalo Bill and his show, although evolving over time, continues to shape the Italian perspective on the American West. The influence is seen in the growing interest in American Western culture and literature, American-style rodeo, “Western Riding” (reining and cutting competitions), and the growth of American Quarter Horse industry in Italy. This is fertile ground for exploring the evolving idea of the West that takes place outside of American borders, focusing, as Buffalo Bill did, on the exceptionalist vision of that West.
“Buffalo Bill’s Legacy: Finding the West and Westerners in Contemporary Italy.” Saturday University, University of Wyoming, Gillette, WY, October 26, 2013. Renee Laegreid, University of Wyoming.
The words ‘heterosexual and homosexual” did not surface in the cultural vernacular until the early 1900’s. William F. Cody was as “unprejudiced as a man could be” according to prominent western historians. Was Buffalo Bill “gay” friendly before the word existed? Based on Gregory Hinton’s scholarship as a 2011 BBHC Resident Fellow, his Points West Summer 2012 article “Out West with Buffalo Bill” examines Cody’s cordial acquaintanceships with flamboyant Irish poet, lecturer & playwright Oscar Wilde; and acclaimed 19th Century French painter Rosa Bonheur, who carried a government permit to dress like a man.
“Out West with Buffalo Bill.” Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Cody, WY, December 16, 2011. Gregory Hinton, Author, Filmmaker & Independent Scholar.