I'm fascinated by Westerns - especially the way that the tropes and tricks of the genre have been appropriated and/or assimilated into other styles of literature. Playing with the idea that Westerns now exist everywhere (...except as Westerns), what are the hooks for discussion?
The Western genre peaked in the 1960s. Why?
- Changes in format? (death the pulp format meant death of a genre; what's that mean with the format changes in today's publishing industry?)
- Reliance on other media? (Wikipedia cites 1960s rise and fall of Westerns as a result of volume of Western TV shows, and viewer burnout) [interesting parallel to modern fantasy]
- Change in reader interest? (no more frontiers? Cuban Missile Crisis/Vietnam leads to public discouragement in jingoism? less romance of America within America?)
- 'Out of ideas'? Can a genre expire?
Age of the genre means that it has had many more stages of growth/descent/evolution [fantasy equivalent]:
- 'traditional Westerns' - Zane Grey [high fantasy]
- pulp/commercial Westerns - Clifton Adam, JT Edson [sword & sorcery]
- revisionist Westerns - George Gilman [grimdark]
- post-revisionist Westerns - Larry McMurtry, Justified [?!]
- Western fusions - David Towsey, Firefly [New Weird]
- literary Westerns - Cormac McCarthy, Peter Carey, Patrick DeWitt [?!]
What does this mean for the progression of a genre? (Other examples of contemporary but well-developed genres: romance) Are genres teleological? What does this mean for fantasy and SF?