This seminar, developed in collaboration with visiting guest instructor Glenn LaVertu (Parsons), combines readings, discussion, archival research, storyboarding, project-based learning, legal analysis, and filmmaking in presenting new takes on an old genre: Westerns. We will read and watch Westerns alongside study of the development of the American legal system, considering the aesthetics of justice, narrative, and guns. Students will work on film and theater projects related to the manufacturing, use, and mythologization of “Old West” in popular culture, television, and film. Film projects will be screened and discussed at the Center for the Study of Guns and Society’s annual undergraduate conference on Thursday, April 25, and Friday April 26, 2024, and at the presentation of “Stories of Carceral Connecticut,” a celebration of student projects for the Mellon Foundation project, “Carceral Connecticut,” on Friday, May 3, 2024.

The course will consider the aesthetics of storytelling, guns, and justice, as well as be a lab for creating and narrating new stories. Engaging with contemporary debates about Westerns as manifestations of American gun culture, the purpose of the project is to draw parallels between the way in which gun violence is portrayed in film, particularly period, Western movies, and the realities of gun violence today. The final project is an opportunity to expose multiple points of view regarding gun violence and justice and their socio-political effects, and to write and develop new scripts, storyboards, and film scenes, as well as study old ones.

Categories: Seminars


Jennifer Tucker is a historian who studies the interrelations of art and science, photography, and mass visual culture, with a specialization in 19th to mid-20th century British, U.S., and trans-Pacific history. The common threads in her diverse research fields are the dynamics of visual media in modern history, the nature of evidence, public perceptions and practices of history, and the interrelationships of science, technology, and the law.


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