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Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Askari, Kaveh

Second Advisor

Laffrado, Laura

Third Advisor

Rivera, Lysa M.


This essay examines the critical and narratological significance of landscape and geography in three American western films---John Ford's The Searchers (1956), Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood (2007), and Clint Eastwood's Gran Torino (2008). Drawing on ecocritical, feminist, and Marxist theory in addition to film and genre theory, this essay insists on seeing the multiple denotative and connotative meanings on 'landscape' in American cultural production. The essay examines landscape as an artistic tradition of composed and framed natural beauty, as physical place and inhabited systems, and as fraught geopolitical space. This essay argues that an analysis of landscape in these films exposes the intricate relationships between land use, state formation, American capitalism, racial and ethnic difference, national identity, and gender identity. This project highlights the ways that social, cultural, and philosophical attitudes about race, gender, and national identity are attitudes that are constructed and formed in relation to physical spaces and geographic conditions, and this project emphasizes the dialogic nature of the relationships between sociophilosophical attitudes and physical realities. The essay argues that such an examination is of special importance now at a historical moment when anxieties and discussions about land, border and national security, and environmental impact are heavily mediated and theorized in a range of critical discourse communities.




Western Washington University

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