Nature's Noblemen Transatlantic Masculinities and the Nineteenth-Century American West Monica Rico

The Lamar Series in Western History
Publication date:
16 Jul 2013
Yale University Press
304 pages: 235 x 156 x 27mm
5 b-w illus.
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In this fascinating book Monica Rico explores the myth of the American West in the nineteenth century as a place for men to assert their masculinity by “roughing it” in the wilderness and reveals how this myth played out in a transatlantic context. Rico uncovers the networks of elite men—British and American—who circulated between the West and the metropoles of London and New York.

Each chapter tells the story of an individual who, by traveling these transatlantic paths, sought to resolve anxieties about class, gender, and empire in an era of profound economic and social transformation. All of the men Rico discusses—from the well known, including Theodore Roosevelt and Buffalo Bill Cody, to the comparatively obscure, such as English cattle rancher Moreton Frewen—envisioned the American West as a global space into which redemptive narratives of heroic upper-class masculinity could be written.

Monica Rico is associate professor of history at Lawrence University. She lives in Appleton, WI.

“In this richly nuanced exploration of masculinity in motion, Rico reveals the fluidity and fragility of elite men’s privileges and presumptions.  As the rugged proving ground of western America became the consumable spectacle of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West, manliness became a kind of property, in both the economic and the theatrical sense of the word.  No one is a better guide to this complicated cultural terrain than Monica Rico.”—Virginia Scharff, author of The Women Jefferson Loved

 “By tying western history to British imperial history, this book adds an important new geographic dimension to both fields, while adding to our understanding of inter-imperial relations.”—Kristin Hoganson, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

“Rico takes us on an erudite journey through the nineteenth century with aristocrats, adventurers, and buckskin hunters, whose engagements with nature, modernity, and masculinity force us to re-imagine the entangled cultural legacies of Britain and the U.S. West.”—Samuel Truett, University of New Mexico