For centuries, Western films comforted audiences by containing the savage Other, often playfully, even comically. During the 2021 Marston Lafrance Lecture, Zombies and the Death of Certainty in the Land of Perennial Rebirth, Carleton University’s Prof. Mark Anderson will discuss how scholars have long tied the Western to the frontier myth, settler America’s creation story. Yet after dominating prime time since the days of the Puritans, the genre abruptly faded after 1968. Prominent American film critic, Pauline Kael at the New Yorker, boldly (and mistakenly) declared it dead in 1974.

When: Tuesday, March 16, 2021 at 2 p.m.

The decline of the Western is important because it signifies a kind of death of certainty that had held for nearly 400 years, forged in the nation-building and attempted annihilation of Indigenous peoples and the horrors of misogyny. These firmly established truths have fallen under siege, thanks to George Romero et al and especially after 9/11, by the basic question posed by the zombie horror genre, what happens when the proverbial gates are overrun by the savage Other?

Read a story on Prof. Anderson’s research: Interrogating the Popular Culture Frontier.

The Marston LaFrance Research Fellowship

Each year, the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) awards the Marston LaFrance Research Fellowship to one of its outstanding faculty members, in order to facilitate the completion of a major research project that requires significant release time. Once the year has completed, the Fellowship winner delivers a lecture on the research they were able to accomplish during their time as the Marston LaFrance Fellow.

The Fellowship was established in 1979 by FASS in memory of Marston LaFrance, former professor of English and dean of Arts at Carleton. Each year, the recipient presents a seminar or public lecture on some aspect of the research conducted while on the LaFrance Fellowship.

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Steven Reid
Media Relations Officer
Carleton University

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