"The Significance of the Frontier Myth in American History,"
from Gunfighter Nation: The Myth of the Frontier
in Twentieth-Century America (1992)
Slotkin is well-known for several lengthy studies of the Frontier in American culture, including Regeneration Through Violence: The Mythology of the American Frontier, 1600-1860 (1973), The Fatal Environment: The Myth of the Frontier in the Age of Industrialization, 1800-1890 (1985), and Gunfighter Nation: The Myth of the Frontier in Twentieth-Century America (1992). In this essay from Gunfighter Nation, he examines the long survival of the Frontier idea in American culture.
- Questions to Consider:
- 1) What is The Frontier Thesis? Why does Slotkin refer to it as the "Frontier Myth"? Is there a difference between Turner's statement of the significance of the Frontier and the idea of the Frontier as it developed from Colonial days to the present?
- 2) What role does Slotkin argue the frontier myth has played in American history?
- 3) How does Slotkin support his argument about the Frontier Myth?
- Further Readings:
- Museums West's Powerful Images: Portrayals of Native America provides an excellent introduction to the visual creation of the Frontier myth.
- The Smithsonian National Museum of American Art's subject listings for "The West" provides an overview of artistic depictions of the frontier idea.
- An excerpt from Slotkin's Regeneration Through Violence: The Mythology of the American Frontier, 1600-1860.
- The University of Oklahoma Press's advertisement for Gunfighter Nation, with ordering information.
- Elizabeth Martinez's "Reinventing 'America'" discusses recent permutations of the Frontier myth.
Prepared by Professor Catherine Lavender for Honors 502 (American Frontiers and Borderlands), Department of History, The College of Staten Island of The City University of New York. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Last modified: Tuesday 5 September 2000.