Is ‘The West’ a place, defined and measured by geography, climate, political boundaries and the like? Of course, but it is also a cultural phenomenon in that it ‘means something.’ Vast landscapes, peoples, indigenous and setter, railroads and ranches overtaking pristine wilderness, an ideal and idealized past uncorrupted by modernity, all of these images tell us something about the meaning of The West.
This class explores the history of the American west as presented through images. We are interested in representations of the American west, or as Historian William H. Goetzmann famously phrased it, “The West of the Imagination.” This west, the imagined west, is a story of American culture and how artists and writers communicate its magic, and how their stories influence the way we think about our shared history.
Class title attributed to William H. Goetzmann.
Brian Hosmer has held the H.G. Barnard Chair in Western American History since 2009, following academic positions at the University of Delaware, University of Wyoming, and the University of Illinois at Chicago. While in Chicago, he also directed the Newberry Library’s D’Arcy McNickle Center for Native American and Indigenous Studies (formally McNickle Center for American Indian History), a preeminent Native American Studies research center, for a half-dozen years.
At the University of Tulsa, he teaches a variety of classes covering Indigenous peoples of North America, the North American West, Environmental history, and the History of Oklahoma. Most years, “Indians in American History” and “Images of the West” are his “bread and butter” classes, attracting students pursuing a variety of majors. He offers seminars on Representations by/about Indigenous People, American Indian Ethnohistory (basically a methods class), and other topics touching upon the west. His Oklahoma History class exposes students to public history through guest speakers and field trips to Tulsa institutions and sites.
Brian mostly researches and writes about topics he finds interesting, though most of his publications pivot around intersections between economic change and Indigenous nationhood in the 20th century. His books (solely authored or edited) include: American Indians and the Marketplace, Native Pathways, Tribal Worlds, Native Americans and the Legacy of Harry S. Truman, and Indians of Illinois. Most recently he has published on topics like reservation newsletters published during the 1930s, “Community-Engaged Scholarship” in Indian country, and a study of Miami Nationhood based on papers held in the Gilcrease Museum archives (which received an award from the Oklahoma Historical Society). His next project will be a history of travel and American identity, tentatively entitled A Trip to the States: An American Story.
Beyond teaching and research, Brian is active in public programming (a legacy of his Newberry experience). He organized the inaugural Woody Guthrie Symposium and Benefit Concert in 2012, and has hosted speakers as diverse as Paul Tapsell (Maori), Anne Hyde, LaDonna Harris (Comanche), and organized symposia for, or in partnership with, the Woody Guthrie Center, John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation, Helmerich Center for American Research, and the American Society for Ethnohistory. He is also currently serving on the Tulsa Public Schools Board of Education.
Brian’s spouse is a public school teacher (history too!), and their daughter has a degree from TU in Art History, with minors in Photography, Sociology, and Museum Studies. He has two dogs and devotes much energy to home repair and remodeling.
Thanks to the generosity of many donors, ahha Tulsa provides camp, class, and workshop scholarships to currently enrolled K–12 students with demonstrated financial need.
To apply for a scholarship for this program, please complete this form (do not complete registration at the link to the right). A letter of support from a caseworker or school counselor is required for consideration.
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