Queer Cowboys and Other Erotic Male Friendships in
Nineteenth-Century American Literature
by Chris Packard
Palgrave. 144 pages, $55.
COWBOYS are queer—or at least they were in frontier tales of the 19th century. Such is the conclusion of Chris Packard’s new book on this topic. Packard develops his thesis through a reinterpretation of both classic and popular frontier literature. Avoiding the usual theoretical prose that accompanies most works of queer studies, Queer Cowboys embarks upon a historical literary journey that does more than simply expand our ideas about the 19th century. Rather, this slim volume illustrates how erotic male relationships were central qualities in the stories and tales that came to shape the myth of the frontier before 1900.
Our idea of 19th-century America often rests on two contradictory images: