Frontier Myth In American Culture

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When we think of the American West, we always envision a land of rugged mountains and vast prairie, on which cowboys ride on horseback and chase after the Indians. This is the definition of the American West as presented on big screens in cinema, where most Americans’ perception of the myth of the American West comes from. Myth is a story that represents a culture's values and helps to define the individuals that comprise it. All cultures are based on myths. Perhaps the most significant myth in American culture is that of the American frontier generated by the European encounters with the American West. The most noticeable part of the frontier myth is the mythic struggle between modern civilization and wilderness. Frontier is defined as “the meeting point between savagery and civilization”. Turner believes that the American frontier is closely related to American civilization and that frontier …show more content…

A view of Americans as a special, exceptional people because Americans had progressively taken over the West and conquered primitive societies was firmly established in the minds of Americans by frontier myth. One of problems is that the frontier myth is a story, and “all stories are partial; that is, in creating narrative coherence, they leave things out, and emphasize other things”. They are not necessarily false, but neither are they history. As the society evolved, the concept of the frontier is consequently redefined as a space of social and cultural interaction and replaced by the terms “contact zone” by Mary Louise Pratt in her 1992 book Imperial Eyes. Contact zones are “social spaces where disparate cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other.” Of course there could be winners and losers, and violent battles in these encounters, however the focus is no longer on distinctions between race and gender but on the intersections between people and cultures, on their assimilations and

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