What is a Western? Film Series

This ongoing series explores the wide range of movies that can be considered Westerns, and the ways in which they shape our understanding of the American West. Each screening includes a guest lecturer who will introduce the film and explains its significance in the genre.

For more content, check out What Is a Western? Interview Series online. Building on the film series of the same name, and on our diverse collections related to the Western, this interview series traverses all the frontiers and borderlands of the imagined West in popular culture. We ask experts to share their knowledge about the many sides to Western storytelling and imagery, while augmenting each interview with recommendations of media to watch, read, hear, and enjoy at home.

  • What Is a Western Easy Rider (1969)

    Saturday, July 9, 2022, 1:30 p.m.

    Screened in 35mm!

    This story of two outlaws on motorcycles traveling from Los Angeles to New Orleans proved to be one of the enduring films of the 1960s counterculture. By combining sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll with the Western genre...

  • What Is a Western? Gidget (1959)

    Saturday, August 6, 2022, 1:30 p.m.

    Considered to be the first of the “beach party” movies, this coming-of-age tale is based on the true story of Kathy Kohner and her experiences as a young woman in the then-niche and masculine sport of surfing. Widely credited with...