In conjunction with the 150th anniversary of the Chisholm Trail the Enid Public Library and Let’s Talk About It, Oklahoma present The Cowboy, a five book scholar-led discussion series. “The story of the cowboy has outlasted the mountain man, the pioneer, the soldier, the settler, the gold seeker, the scout, and even the Indian in terms of frequency of appearance, if not in quality of representation. The readings for this program may help to explain the primacy of the cowboy over all other western types from the nineteenth century.” It is free to participate, and all events take place in the library’s Great Plains Room on Saturday mornings at 10:00 a.m. The books may be checked out prior to or after each discussion. Although recommended, books do not have to be pre-read to participate in the discussion.
January 28, Cowboy Life: Reconstructing an American Myth edited, with an introduction and afterword, by William W. Savage, Jr. This anthology contains views of the historical cowboy by nineteenth and early twentieth-century observers, with a bit of cowboy autobiography for comparison, supported by dozens of photographs. This work will be presented by Dr. Hugh Foley.
February 11, The Virginian by Owen Wister. Published in 1902, The Virginian is an archetypal cowboy fiction, although its author was an Easterner who knew very little about the subject. The hero, known only as the Virginian, is foreman of a cattle ranch is Wyoming, a cowboy who made good but who now must police the activities of ambitious former peers. This work will be presented by Dr. Harbour Winn.
February 25, The Log of a Cowboy by Andy Adams. The Log of a Cowboy (1903) is a former working cowboy’s literary response to people like Wister. Adams attempts to portray cowboy life accurately as he recounts a trail drive north from Texas. This work will be presented by Dr. David Oberhelman.
March 11, Monte Walsh by Jack Schaefer. This fictional biography of a lone cowboy, pays attention to the concerns of Andy Adams but adds a not of cynicism that leaves a stronger sense of the reality of the historical cowboy’s life. This work will be presented by Dr. Sara Jane Richter and will be followed by a light lunch and the movie Monte Walsh.
March 25. The library will host a Lonesome Dove Miniseries Marathon. A light lunch will be provided.
April 1, Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. McMurtry’s Pulitzer-Prize winning novel sets the modern standard for cowboy fiction, where realism overwhelms whatever ballistic or pugilistic activity might otherwise be taken to represent heroic effort–though in the best Wister tradition, McMurtry still separates cowboys from cows to weave a sad narrative about people who spend their lives loving other people who cannot or will not (but in any case do not) reciprocate.
These events are made possible by a grant from Oklahoma Humanities with generous funding from the Inasmuch Foundation and the Kirkpatrick Family Fund.