Alt Westerns

This course will be offered in Spring 2025 in a format TBD. It is open to all majors, and it satisfies elective requirements for CMS and Film Production majors.

CMS 4802 Alternative Westerns examines recent film, television, comics, and video games that offer new twists on the “classic” genre Western, telling different stories and incorporating new characters, imagery, and themes. Along the way, we also will learn more about genres in general: their importance, history, and the particular pleasures they offer to audiences.

The basic setup of the course is to watch, play, talk, think, and write about films, television shows, games, and comics. In addition to studying the assigned works, student will choose their own example Western and analyze it using the terms and concepts presented in class. The final results may be presented in a traditional academic paper or a short video.

Links to other sections of this syllabus can be found in the header menu as well as the General Class Policies menu. The “General Class Policies”  menu also includes a link to information related to the pandemic. Additional course materials are accessible to enrolled students through D2L.

The course will be taught in Fall 2024, when it will be offered in a 100% online format. This syllabus is not complete; check here frequently to make sure that you have the most current information.

Possible Movies, TV Shows, & Games

  • Rango (film)
  • Stagecoach or The Searchers (film)
  • Jonah Hex (1993 DC comic)
  • Jonah Hex (2010 film)
  • The Ballad of Little Jo (film)
  • The Walking Dead (comic)
  • The Walking Dead (TV)
  • Westworld (1973 film)
  • Westworld (2016 TV)
  • High Plains Drifter (film)
  • Pale Rider (film)
  • Wyonna Earp (TV)
  • Meek’s Crossing (film)
  • The Harder they Fall (TV)
  • Red Dead Redemption Undead Nightmare (video game)
  • Weird West (video game)
  • Evil West (video game)
  • Nope (film)

Required Readings

  • TBD

In addition, we will read a variety of PDF and online resources, all linked through the Content panel in D2L.

Spoiler Warning

Unfortunately, we will not be able to avoid spoilers in our discussions of assigned texts.

Required Software, Hardware, and Technical Capabilities

In addition to Desire2Learn, the following software programs and capabilities are necessary for success in this course. The Hub offers training resources to help students master these tools.

Webcam and Microphone
For quizzes and exams, you may be required to use the Respondus Lockdown Browser, which includes video monitoring. If your laptop does not have a built-in webcam, you will need to invest in or borrow one to use with your university-mandated laptop computer. (Wikipedia has a useful entry on webcams.)
Lockdown Browser
You may be required to use the Respondus Lockdown Browser for quizzes and exams. You will download and install this on your laptop from within D2L. Please complete this process by taking the Sample Quiz during the first week of class.
Web Browser: Firefox or Chrome or Safari
In this media-rich class, using an up-to-date browser is mandatory.
Microsoft Teams
Students should download the Teams app to their computer, since the Web-based version doesn’t support screen- and video-sharing the Hub’s Knowledge Base article details the necessary steps.
PDF Reader (Adobe Reader)
Students must be able to read PDF files.
Media Player: VLC or equivalent
Students must be able to play mp3 and mp4 files. Many software tools will enable this, including VLC, which is available for free download.
Microsoft Word word processing
Students must be able to compose and read documents saved in the Microsoft Word “docx” format.
Clayton State email
Students must access their CSU email accounts on a regular basis. They must be able to use these accounts to attach and retrieve attached files.

Contact Information

My contact information including office hours is collected on separate page.

Vulgarity, Profanity, and Violence

A note of warning: We are all adults, and we are studying a culture that is sometimes vulgar, profane, and violent. As a result, you may hear or see adult content in the materials assigned for our class. Nothing assigned by me or submitted by other students should exceed the MPAA rating of R. When engaging in class discussions, if you submit material that is Not Safe For Work (NSFW) or other venues and audiences,  please note this in your subject line as a convenience to your classmates. Please also be aware that your contributions should conform to the class’s rules regarding  Online Etiquette.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

It is my intent that students from diverse backgrounds and perspectives be well served by this course, that students’ learning needs be addressed, and that the diversity that students bring to this class be viewed as a resource, strength and benefit. It is my intent to present materials and activities that are respectful of diversity along multiple dimensions, including ethnicity, race, gender, sexuality, disability, age, socioeconomic status, and culture. Your suggestions are encouraged and appreciated. Please let me know ways to improve the effectiveness of the course for you personally or for other students or student groups.

Disability Services

Students with disabilities who need to request accommodations should contact the Disability Resource Center, Edgewater Hall, Suite 255; 678-466-5445;