Cowboys are known all over the world. They embody fantasies of mobility and adventure in the North American West to people around the globe. And naturally, we imagine cowboys as white and male figures who roam the prairies. The innovative action TACOMO takes a new look at cowboydom: It shows how cowGIRLS produce and revise cowboy gender norms in transnational cultural mobilities. Travelling with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show to Germany and Austria at the turn of the 20th century, female performers presented show acts such as trick riding, roping, and sharpshooting. Their acts addressed narratives of the frontier, American womanhood, and the gender norms of their European audiences, both through their performance (dialogue, costume, behavior) and its reception (newspaper commentary, advertising).
TACOMO’s objective is to show that the gendered myth of the Wild West was created transatlantically in North America and in Europe. It explores three research questions: first, how did women performers experiment on the cowboy figure at Wild West Shows? Second, how did US cowgirldom interact with continental imperial gender roles? And third, how does their legacy resonate with present-day popular Western cultures in the US, Canada, Austria, and Germany?
The action completes the researcher’s previous findings about female cowboys. It theorizes their performance through cutting edge fields of inquiry from Popular and Visual Culture, Mobility Studies and Transnational North American Studies, and it closes a gap in scholarly research on the myth of the American West. TACOMO’s special relevance to the H2020 program includes, first, a strong gender aspect in the diachronic research topic and in the researcher’s and the host’s gender-critical perspectives on academia; second, an appeal to general interest through its popular culture focus; and third, an understanding of culture as essentially mobile and produced in the travelling of ideas, persons, and objects between cultures.
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