Book Talk: Transnational Frontiers: The American West in France
The public is invited to a book talk by Emily Burns, author of Transnational Frontiers: The American West in France, on Thursday, November 8 at 4 p.m. at the Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts & Humanities at Pebble Hill.
When Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show traveled to Paris in 1889, the New York Times reported that the exhibition would be “managed to suit French ideas.” But where had those “French ideas” of the American West come from? And how had they, in turn, shaped the notions of “cowboys and Indians” that captivated the French imagination during the Gilded Age? In Transnational Frontiers, Emily C. Burns maps the complex fin-de-siècle cultural exchanges that revealed, defined, and altered images of the American West.
This visual history shows how American artists, writers, and tourists traveling to France exported the dominant frontier narrative that presupposed manifest destiny—and how Native American performers with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and other traveling groups challenged that view. Many French artists and illustrators plied this imagery as well. At the 1900 World’s Fair in Paris, sculptures of American cowboys conjured a dynamic and adventurous West, while portraits of American Indians on vases evoked an indigenous people frozen in primitivity. At the same time, representations of Lakota performers, as well as the performers themselves, deftly negotiated the politics of American Indian assimilation and sought alternative spaces abroad.
Emily C. Burns is Assistant Professor of Art History at Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama. Dr. Burns’s research analyzes the circulation of artists and objects in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and interprets how mobility shapes visual culture and cultural discourses of nationalism. Her articles have been published in Archives of American Art Journal, Sculpture Journal, Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide, Panorama, and various anthologies on art, mobility and international exchange. Her research has been supported by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, and the Amon Carter Museum, among other institutions.
The event is free, open to the public, and will be followed by refreshments. Books will be available for purchase and signing.
The Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts & Humanities at Pebble Hill is located at 101 S. Debardeleben Street, Auburn. For more information on the program, call 334-844-4903 or visit www.auburn.edu/cah.
Last Updated: October 30, 2018