Hollywood's Portrayal of the American West

Hollywood's Portrayal of the American West



American has its own mythology. Unlike Greek of Norse myth, the mythology of the American West emerged as the Nation did. Students intrigued by the mythology of the American West, or those looking for an introduction to the western genre of literature and film, should apply to take part in LMU's pre-college course exploring the western frontier. 

2018 American West pre-college students explore Knott's Berry Farm's Calico Ghost Town as part of their final project for the class.

Guided by renowned LMU faculty, participants will explore the mythology of the American West and its impact on contemporary culture, experience and identity. Along the way, we hope to answer some questions:

  • Why is American Mythos necessary?
  • What are the characteristics of the heroes in narratives of American myth?
  • Do we still believe, as our Nation's founders believed, that civilization always moves west?
  • If our values and character were shaped by the frontier experience, who are we now that the west has been settled?

Using frontier literature, classic Hollywood western films and conversations on contemporary politics, students will find themselves immersed in the fast-paced world of westward expansion, contemplating not only the wild frontiers of America’s past, but whether or not there are currently any frontiers left for us to explore.

As part of their final project in the class, students will create a visual argument, in essence a video essay, that will make use of visual elements such as imagery and text, negative and positive space, layout and color, as well as info-graphics such as charts and graphs to persuade someone to think, believe or act differently. All students need to make this visual argument is available on any phone or laptop. 

Students who successfully complete this program will receive four (4) units of college credit. Students must have completed junior year of high school by the start of summer 2019 to attend.

From the Faculty: Hollywood's Portrayal of the American West

Learn more about LMU's summer college-credit course for rising high school seniors from faculty member, K.J. Peters, Ph.D.

  • Los Angeles Area Excursion

    The Santa Monica Mountains become our classroom for the day as we continue our exploration of the American frontier amid former Hollywood western film sets at Paramount Ranch. Students will also have the opportunity to visit the Autry Museum of the American West, located in Los Angeles' famed Griffith Park. 

  • Program Outcomes
    • Learn to read literature with imagination and view film with a critical eye 
    • Develop an understanding of the cultural and historical context of frontier literature and Hollywood westerns
    • Connect modern day events with historically significant moments using the artistry of literature and film

    Students who successfully complete this course will receive 4 units of university credit.

  • Tuition and Fees

    Application Fee: $60

    2019 Program Cost: $6,600*

    The program cost includes:

    • Tuition for 4 units of college credit
    • Housing for two weeks
    • All meals
    • Course materials
    • Use of campus recreation facilities
    • Class field trips
    • A trip to Universal Studios
    • An additional weekend day trip off campus

    The cost does not include transportation to and from the program itself, personal spending money, or other incidentals.

    For additional information about program tuition and fees and payment options, please visit our Fees Page

    *Summer 2020 costs will be available beginning in October

Applications for Summer 2020 will be available beginning November 15.