Friday, December 5, 2008
Witschi Essay on Regionalist Hoaxes in the West
Nic Witschi's essay "'With Powder Smoke and Profanity': Genre Conventions, Regional Identity, and the Palisade Gunfight Hoax" has been published by the University of Nebraska Press in a collection entitled Regionalism and the Humanities, edited by Timothy R. Mahoney and Wendy J. Katz. Originally part of an NEH-sponsored multidisciplinary conference on regionalist studies, this essay examines a small town in 1870s Nevada that, as the story goes, pranked westward-bound railway tourists by staging stereotypical and excessively bloody fake Indian attacks and gunfights. At issue is not only the question of what these events may have looked like historically, what conventions and assumptions they rely upon and exploit, but also the prominent place that stories about this town have assumed in Nevadans' self-image--the story of the Palisade hoaxes is one that, true or not, people in the region have taken great pleasure in telling again and again.