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 www.denverlibrary.org/fresh or call 720-865-1206.
Sat., April 26, 2008

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Amber Taufen has been writing about people, places and things in Denver since 2005. She works as an editor, writer, and production and process guru out of her home office in the foothills.
Contact: Amber Taufen