Symposium Session 9

2:30 PM-4:00 PM Session 9: The Wild West and European Nationalism
Frank Christianson, Chair

Nicole Perry, The Beginning of a Love Affair? Buffalo Bill in Germany

Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show provided for Germans new and exciting insights into Frontier life and Indigenous peoples of North America. This paper examines Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Shows in a German nationalist discourse on the American West, focusing on German and western tropes of Indigeneity and the myth of the cowboy.

Nicole Perry is a Lecturer in German at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. Her research focusses on German/North American Indigenous connections. She has been a Lise Meitner-Programme Fellow at the University of Vienna for her project “Performing Germanness, Reclaiming Aboriginality”, which discusses North American Indigenous reexaminations of the German ‘Indianer’ image.

Bob Rydell, “It Looks Like Peace in Indian Country”: The Journey from Buffalo Bill’s Wild West to the Hague Peace Conferences in 1899 and 1907

No, Buffalo Bill did not take his show to the Hague Peace Conferences.  But his show did influence the way Europeans and Americans thought about peace.  Was Buffalo Bill really a “peace maker?”  The answer is ______,

Robert Rydell is professor of history at Montana State University.  He has written extensively about world’s fairs and has co-authored, with Rob Kroes, Buffalo Bill in Bologna (2005). He is currently completing a short history of Montana State University for its upcoming 125th anniversary in 2018.

Jamie Horrocks, Cody, Wilde, and Transatlantic Celebrity

British aesthete Oscar Wilde and America’s most famous frontiersman, Buffalo Bill Cody, seem the unlikeliest of bedfellows. Wilde was ridiculed by contemporaries who regarded him as an effete, dandified versifier, while Cody embodied the fearless, forthright masculinity thought to characterize the American frontier. And yet the two men, whose transatlantic tours made them both celebrities in the first mass-media era, share an affinity that was often noted by nineteenth-century observers. This affinity suggests that the narrative of Cody’s transatlanticism cannot be told fully without Wilde, and vice versa, for each man provided the other with certain tools of cultural navigation. What Cody offered Wilde at the outset of Wilde’s tour was a readily legible version of Americanness against which British aestheticism could be, and would be, posited. What Wilde, in return, offered Cody was a model of national identity that simultaneously acknowledged the constructedness of categories of nation, self, and other and asserted their authenticity. For Wilde in America, this model served the characteristically Wildean purpose of unsettling the notion of a stable identity, national or otherwise. For Cody in Britain, however, this model provided a means by which a spectacle of stagecraft that everybody recognized as such, might also be regarded as an authentic expression of national identity.

Jamie Horrocks is Associate Professor of English at Brigham Young University in Provo, UT, where she teaches courses on Victorian literature and culture and gender studies. Her research interests center on Victorian aesthetics and the intersection of literature and art, especially in the later nineteenth century. She has published on Oscar Wilde, Vernon Lee, Virginia Woolf, the Aesthetic Movement, Pre-Raphaelitism, and Victorian periodical illustration.