The WLA and Digital Frontiers

The Western Literature Association conference was a blast this year, as always. I gave a paper on the ways in which the frontier myth operates in video games, specifically Red Dead Redemption, to support neo-liberal ideals and continue the discourse of American exceptionalism. After I gave my paper, I was invited to submit to a special issue of Western American Literature, the top journal in the field. I have to say that I was rather stunned, because I had thought I would be defending the idea of linking literary forms and cultural discourses to video games, but the audience was open to the idea. More than open, they were HUNGRY for such connections.

I’ve been toying with the idea of starting not only a print book on the subject, but also a digital archive of both my books-in-progress, since both deal with the way literature works outside of the confines of print. American Studies is taking a digital turn as of late (like everything else), and so are print books really the best form for disseminating research into digital forms or anything that uses visuals or material culture?  Probably not. I am not going to joint the “print-is-dead” band-wagon just yet, but the dominance of print is most certainly dead and that’s a good thing.


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