These American Lives

Once while visiting my aunt and uncle in Tucscon, Arizona, they took me on a trip to see Tombstone. That tiny town is still capitalizing on the fateful day when Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp finished (or started, depending on your view of history) a gunfight in the OK Corral.

Figuring marginally in those goings-on was Kate Elder (aka Big Nose Kate), Doc's sidekick -- although some historians believe Kate had a much bigger role in the OK Corral story than is generally acknowledged. And although the town of Tombstone was mostly about men -- male miners, male outlaws, etc. -- Tombstone also had a thriving population of prostitutes.

How do women work themselves into the history of the West? Today Geoffrey Bateman, a Ph.D student at the University of Colorado at Boulder (his dissertation is on "The Queer Frontier: Re-Imagining Desire in the American West, 1870-1930"), will deliver a talk, "American Girls Playing Cowboy," focusing on the gendered cultural imaginary of the West, and how cultural fantasies about this region afforded women a degree of independence or allowed them to defy conventional gender roles. Bateman will use Calamity Jane and Willa Cather as examples; the talk kicks off Fresh City Life's Wild, Wild West program series.

"American Girls Playing Cowboy" is a free talk and goes from 2 to 4 p.m.; for information, visit or call 720-865-1206.
Sat., April 26, 2008


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