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Cow Boys and Cattle MenClass and Masculinities on the Texas Frontier, 1865-1900$
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Jacqueline M. Moore

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780814757390

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814757390.001.0001

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The Cowboy Becomes Myth

(p.204) Epilogue
Cow Boys and Cattle Men

Jacqueline M. Moore

NYU Press

This concluding chapter briefly traces the evolution of the historical cowboy to the mythic hero through dime novels, literature, art, and film. Even during a time when cowboys were already seen as crude and morally suspect, nostalgia lingered an imagined past that they had read about in novels or seen in Wild West shows. Cowboys were also avid readers of dime novels and participants in Wild West shows, and by the 1920s, when most cowboys began writing their memoirs, their defense was to embrace the myth of the dime novel heroic and genteel cowboy and claim it as reality, ironically glorifying middle-class ideals of masculinity in the process. William “Buffalo Bill” Cody was responsible for rehabilitating the image of the cowboy, among others. Ultimately, however, the cowboy retained his masculine image, whereas railroad workers, miners, and other industrial workers' masculinities were being undermined by an increasingly corporate America.

Keywords:   historical cowboy, mythic cowboy, Wild West shows, Buffalo Bill, masculinity, masculine image

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