Symposium Session 13

Session 13: The Wild West in the European Visual Imagination
Peter Hassrick, Chair

Emily C. Burns, Parisian Frontiers: Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and French Masculinities, 1889-1906

This talk analyzes the visual culture of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West tours in France in 1889 and 1905–6 and reveals how, with its emphasis on taming, and in dialogue with constructions within the American community that defined Paris as a wilderness, the spectacle came to the center of a transnational negotiation that transformed Paris into a metaphorical American frontier.

Emily C. Burns is Assistant Professor of Art History at Auburn University. Her research focuses on Franco-American cultural exchange in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Her book, Transnational Frontiers: the American West in the French Imagination, is forthcoming from University of Oklahoma Press.

Jennifer R. Henneman, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and the Fine Arts Galleries of the American Exhibition in London of 1887

A comparative analysis of the reception of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and the Fine Arts Galleries of the American Exhibition in London of 1887 reveals the mutually supportive relationship of the popular and fine arts in a larger cultural enterprise of mythmaking and imperial identity at the end of the nineteenth century.

Jennifer R. Henneman is Assistant Curator at the Petrie Institute of Western American Art at the Denver Art Museum and has a doctoral degree from the University of Washington in 19th century British and American visual art and culture. Her interdisciplinary transatlantic research reflects her upbringing on a Montana cattle ranch and her interest in the legacies of the Victorian era.

Emily L. Voelker, Portrait of an Oglala in Paris with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West, 1889: Capturing Intercultural Encounters with the Camera

During Buffalo Bill’s Wild West’s stay in Paris for the 1889 Exposition Universelle, Prince Roland Bonaparte completed a photographic series focusing primarily on the Lakota troupe members. This paper closely reads one of these pictures—of Oglala sitter Billy Peano—as a multivalent portrait suggestive of different aspects of the Native experience as a show performer abroad with the Wild West during this period.

Emily Voelker received her Ph.D. in History of Art & Architecture at Boston University in 2017. 2017-2018 Postdoctoral fellowships at the Smithsonian Institution and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art will support the transformation of her dissertation, “From Both Sides of the Lens: Anthropology, Native Experience & Photographs of American Indians in French Exhibitions, 1870-1890” into a book manuscript.