Extrapolation

Robert. E. Howard, the American Frontier, and Borderlands in the Stories of Conan the Barbarian

Extrapolation (2016), 57, (3), 339–353.

Abstract

Much has been written about the influence of the American frontier on Robert E. Howard and how this can be seen in his writings. An interesting focus for some of this work has been Frederick Jackson Turner’s frontier thesis and, more specifically, Richard Slotkin’s critique and reworking of this “frontier myth.” This article suggests that another critique of Turner’s thesis, that of Herbert Eugene Bolton’s borderlands theory, also offers a fruitful interpretative framework through which to view the Conan stories. To this end, it analyses specific Conan tales, with a particular focus on “Beyond the Black River,” to explore the ways in which the world of Conan exhibits borderlands traits. It concludes with some reflections on the implications this might have for the inception of the sword and sorcery genre more generally.

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Trout, Steven R. “Heritage of Steel: Howard and the Frontier Myth.” The Barbaric Triumph: A Critical Anthology on the Writings of Robert E. Howard. Ed. Don Herron. Rockville: Wildside Press, 2004. 59–78. Print. Heritage of Steel: Howard and the Frontier Myth The Barbaric Triumph: A Critical Anthology on the Writings of Robert E. Howard 59 78 Google Scholar

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Weiss, Daniel. “Robert E. Howard’s Barbarian and the Western: A Study of Conan Through the West and the Western Hero.” Conan Meets the Academy: Multidisciplinary Essays on the Enduring Barbarian. Ed. Jonas Prida. Jefferson: McFarland & Company, 2013. 70–90. Print. Robert E. Howard’s Barbarian and the Western: A Study of Conan Through the West and the Western Hero Conan Meets the Academy: Multidisciplinary Essays on the Enduring Barbarian 70 90 Google Scholar

Bolton, Herbert Eugene. “Defensive Spanish Expansion and the Significance of the Borderlands.” Wider Horizons of American Literature. Ed. Herbert Eugene Bolton. New York: U of Notre Dame P, 1939. 55–106. Print. Defensive Spanish Expansion and the Significance of the Borderlands Wider Horizons of American Literature 55 106 Google Scholar

Burke, Rusty. “Robert E. Howard: New Deal Heroic Fantasist.” The Dark Man 2.1–2 (2006): 18–26. Print. Robert E. Howard: New Deal Heroic Fantasist The Dark Man 2.1–2 18 26 Google Scholar

Cerasini, Marc A., and Charles E. Hoffman. Robert E. Howard. Washington: Starmont House, 1987. Print. Robert E. Howard Google Scholar

Coffman, Frank. “Barbarism Ascendant: The Poetic and Epistolary Origins of the Character and His World.” Conan Meets the Academy: Multidisciplinary Essays on the Enduring Barbarian. Ed. Jonas Prida. Jefferson: McFarland & Company, 2013. 35–50. Print. Barbarism Ascendant: The Poetic and Epistolary Origins of the Character and His World Conan Meets the Academy: Multidisciplinary Essays on the Enduring Barbarian 35 50 Google Scholar

Gutiérrez, Ramón A., and Elliott Young. “Transnationalising Borderlands History.” Western Historical Quarterly 41 (2010): 27–53. Print. Transnationalising Borderlands History Western Historical Quarterly 41 27 53 Google Scholar

Hall, Mark. “Clash Go the Civilisations.” The Robert E. Howard Reader. Ed. Darrell Schweitzer. Rockville: The Borgo Press, 2010. 82–93. Print. Clash Go the Civilisations The Robert E. Howard Reader 82 93 Google Scholar

Herron, Don. “The Barbaric Triumph.” The Barbaric Triumph: A Critical Anthology on the Writings of Robert E. Howard. Ed. Don Herron. Rockville: Wildside Press, 2004. 161–178. Print. The Barbaric Triumph The Barbaric Triumph: A Critical Anthology on the Writings of Robert E. Howard 161 178 Google Scholar

Herron, Don. “The Dark Barbarian.” The Dark Barbarian: The Writings of Robert E. Howard, A Critical Anthology. Ed. Don Herron. Rockville: Wildside Press, 1984. 149–182. Print. The Dark Barbarian The Dark Barbarian: The Writings of Robert E. Howard, A Critical Anthology 149 182 Google Scholar

Howard, Robert E. The Complete Chronicles of Conan [Centenary Edition]. Ed. Stephen Jones. London: Gollancz, 2006. Print. The Complete Chronicles of Conan [Centenary Edition] Google Scholar

Indick, Ben P. “The Western Fiction of Robert E. Howard.” The Dark Barbarian: The Writings of Robert E. Howard, A Critical Anthology. Ed. Don Herron. Rockville: Wildside Press, 1984. 99–116. Print. The Western Fiction of Robert E. Howard The Dark Barbarian: The Writings of Robert E. Howard, A Critical Anthology 99 116 Google Scholar

Joshi, S. T. “Barbarism vs. Civilisation.” The Robert E. Howard Reader. Ed. Darrell Schweitzer. Rockville: The Borgo Press, 2010. 51–81. Print. Barbarism vs. Civilisation The Robert E. Howard Reader 51 81 Google Scholar

Knight, George. “Robert E. Howard: Hard-Boiled Heroic Fantasist.” The Dark Barbarian: The Writings of Robert E. Howard, A Critical Anthology. Ed. Don Herron. Rockville: Wildside Press, 1984. 117–133. Print. Robert E. Howard: Hard-Boiled Heroic Fantasist The Dark Barbarian: The Writings of Robert E. Howard, A Critical Anthology 117 133 Google Scholar

Perry, Alvin Earl. “A Biographical Sketch of Robert E. Howard.” The Last Celt: A Bio-Bibliography of Robert Ervin Howard. Ed. Glenn Lord. Hampton Falls: Donald M. Grant, 1976. Print. A Biographical Sketch of Robert E. Howard The Last Celt: A Bio-Bibliography of Robert Ervin Howard Google Scholar

Shanks, Jeffrey. “Hyborian Age Archaeology: Unearthing Historical and Anthropological Foundations.” Conan Meets the Academy: Multidisciplinary Essays on the Enduring Barbarian. Ed. Jonas Prida. Jefferson: McFarland & Company, 2013. 13–34. Print. Hyborian Age Archaeology: Unearthing Historical and Anthropological Foundations Conan Meets the Academy: Multidisciplinary Essays on the Enduring Barbarian 13 34 Google Scholar

Shovlin, Paul. “Canaan Lies Beyond the Black River: Howard’s Dark Rhetoric of the Contact Zone.” Conan Meets the Academy: Multidisciplinary Essays on the Enduring Barbarian. Ed. Jonas Prida. Jefferson: McFarland & Company, 2013. 91–102. Print. Canaan Lies Beyond the Black River: Howard’s Dark Rhetoric of the Contact Zone Conan Meets the Academy: Multidisciplinary Essays on the Enduring Barbarian 91 102 Google Scholar

Slotkin, Richard. Gunfighter Nation: The Myth of the Frontier in Twentieth-Century America. Norman: U of Oklahoma P, 1998. Print. Gunfighter Nation: The Myth of the Frontier in Twentieth-Century America Google Scholar

Trout, Steven R. “Heritage of Steel: Howard and the Frontier Myth.” The Barbaric Triumph: A Critical Anthology on the Writings of Robert E. Howard. Ed. Don Herron. Rockville: Wildside Press, 2004. 59–78. Print. Heritage of Steel: Howard and the Frontier Myth The Barbaric Triumph: A Critical Anthology on the Writings of Robert E. Howard 59 78 Google Scholar

Turner, Frederick Jackson. “The Significance of the Frontier in American History.” Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1893 (1894): 197–227. Print. The Significance of the Frontier in American History Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1893 197 227 Google Scholar

Weiss, Daniel. “Robert E. Howard’s Barbarian and the Western: A Study of Conan Through the West and the Western Hero.” Conan Meets the Academy: Multidisciplinary Essays on the Enduring Barbarian. Ed. Jonas Prida. Jefferson: McFarland & Company, 2013. 70–90. Print. Robert E. Howard’s Barbarian and the Western: A Study of Conan Through the West and the Western Hero Conan Meets the Academy: Multidisciplinary Essays on the Enduring Barbarian 70 90 Google Scholar

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van Duinen, Jared

van Duinen, Jared