Rodeo at the Fringes of the American West
- PUBLISHED: October 2019
- SUBJECT LISTING: History / Western History, African American Studies, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Sports
- BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION: 264 Pages, 6 x 9 in, 15 b&w illus.
- ISBN: 9780295746067
- Publisher: University of Washington Press
Rodeo is a dangerous and painful performance in which only the strongest and most skilled riders succeed. In the popular imagination, the western rodeo hero is often a stoic white man who embodies the toughness and independence of America’s frontier past. However, marginalized people have starred in rodeos since the very beginning. Cast out of popular western mythology and pushed to the fringes in everyday life, these cowboys and cowgirls found belonging and meaning at the rodeo, staking a claim to national inclusion.
Outriders explores the histories of rodeoers at the margins of society, from female bronc-riders in the 1910s and 1920s and convict cowboys in Texas in the mid-twentieth century to all-black rodeos in the 1960s and 1970s and gay rodeoers in the late twentieth century. These rodeo riders not only widened the definition of the real American cowboy but also, at times, reinforced the persistent and exclusionary myth of an idealized western identity. In this nuanced study, Rebecca Scofield shares how these outsider communities courted authenticity as they put their lives on the line to connect with an imagined American West.
Authors & Contributors
Rebecca Scofield is assistant professor of American history at the University of Idaho.
[A]n engaging, insightful, wonderfully researched social and cultural study of forgotten or ignored participants in United States rodeo.- Great Plains Quarterly
This is an ambitious book in which Scofield deftly tackles multiple historical contexts, secondary literatures, and political sensitivities...a foundational monograph that will no doubt inspire further research into the diversity of communities and traditions in rodeo and the North American West.- Western Historical Quarterly
Controversial and dutifully written, Outriders...will be of interest to scholars while causing rodeo fans to think deeply about the conflicts within the myth of the sport.- Montana: The Magazine of Western History
Outriders offers an alternative perspective about what inspires people to enter rodeo, arguing that many do so as a way to claim a presence in the history of the West, and explores how rodeo gave agency to groups previously omitted from the history of cowboy lifestyle...provocative and contributes a framework for revisiting fringe groups.- Pacific Northwest Quarterly
Outriders function as a compendium of current cowboy and rodeo research. Scofield takes this research, and—with engaging style—demonstrates how women, Blacks, Gay men, and incarcerated men have chosen the cowboy as a symbol of what it means to be authentically American.- Journal of Popular Culture
This well-researched book is a good introduction to rodeo beyond the mainstream and will be of interest to rodeo and western scholars, along with a more popular audience unfamiliar with rodeo’s more varied history.- Pacific Historical Review
Expansive in scope and engagingly written, Outriders demonstrates the power of marginalized communities’ rodeo performances to create a wider sense of belonging in the American West, and thus the nation.- Laura Barraclough, author of Charros: How Mexican Cowboys are Remapping Race and American Identity
In Outriders, Rebecca Scofield explores the surprisingly long and deep tradition of 'outsider' rodeo among women, convict, African-American, and gay riders. A well-written, consistently enlightening, often surprising history of a central, essential, and deeply-troubling entertainment.- Louis Warren, UC Davis
Outriders is both a social history and a history of an imagined past and mythic West that centers the idea of performance and resistance. The research is comprehensive and broad—and the histories Scofield addresses illuminate the inherent contradictions surrounding identity and the potential for liberation and joyfulness.- Randy McBee, author of Born to be Wild: The Rise of the American Motorcyclist
This book focuses on the ways rodeo has been reclaimed and repurposed to empower those often seen as marginalized by typical rodeo practices. In turn, it shows how those reclamations complicate our understandings of rodeo's role in regional identity making.- Michael J. Lansing, author of Insurgent Democracy: The Nonpartisan League in North American Politics