CSAW Announces 2020 Winner for Outstanding Western Book

Dec 15, 2020
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CSAW Announces 2020 Winner for Outstanding Western Book

CANYON, Texas — West Texas A&M University’s Center for the Study of the American West is pleased to announce the winner of its second annual CSAW Award for Outstanding Western Book: Josh Garrett-Davis’s “What is a Western?: Region, Genre, Imagination.” 

CSAW will host a virtual award reception and lecture with Garrett-Davis at March 4, 2021, via Zoom (visit to register). Signed copies will be available for purchase at Burrowing Owl Books.

Published by the University of Oklahoma Press in 2019, Garrett-Davis’s book comprises a probing series of essays that explores representations of the American West in popular culture, from Hollywood to Japan, from Native America to Dr. Seuss, and beyond. Drawing on a collection of items from the Autry Museum of the American West in Los Angeles, Garrett-Davis provides a lively, readable and oftentimes humorous take on the western as a genre. 

“'What is a Western?’ will no doubt appeal to a large audience interested in the artwork, literature, and cinema of the American West,” said Dr. Tim Bowman, history professor at West Texas A&M University and chair of the award committee. “To the CSAW book award committee, Garrett-Davis’s book stood above the pack not just in terms of its smart analysis but also in its potential appeal to scholars and a popular readership alike.”

The CSAW Award for Outstanding Western Book is a juried prize recognizing books that demonstrate excellent scholarly or creative insight concerning the American West or some aspect of its history, culture, society, or environment.  

“This book award gives us the opportunity to encourage and acknowledge excellence in Western American Studies research,” said Alex Hunt, CSAW director.  

Of particular interest are books that are geographically relevant to the Southern Plains region and/or the concerns of a Southern Plains regional readership; that balance scholarly/creative excellence with accessible style or popular appeal; and, books that are in keeping with CSAW’s general mission in that they balance a localized focus with global perspective and significance.  

The runner-up for the award is Douglas Sheflin’s “Legacies of Dust: Land Use and Labor on the Colorado Plains” (University of Nebraska Press, 2019). Sheflin’s book is a study of how the federal response to the Dust Bowl of the 1930s shaped the reaction to the later drought in the “Filthy Fifties” and affected patterns of land ownership, irrigation projects, and migrant labor for generations to come.

Western books published in 2020 can be submitted for consideration for the 2021 CSAW Award for Outstanding Western Book through the CSAW website. Deadline is March 1. 

CSAW’s mission is in line with the University’s long-term plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.


About the Center for the Study of the American West 

CSAW was formed in the fall of 2016 with a mission of fostering the study of the American West at WT and building bridges between the University, the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, and the regional populace. CSAW seeks to promote the American West both as a culturally unique region and a product of broad historical forces. For more information about CSAW and all upcoming events, please visit


About West Texas A&M University

WT is located in Canyon, Texas, on a 342-acre residential campus. Established in 1910, the University has been part of The Texas A&M University System since 1990. With enrollment of more than 10,000, WT offers 60 undergraduate degree programs, 38 master’s degrees and two doctoral degrees. The University is also home to the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, the largest history museum in the state and the home of one of the Southwest’s finest art collections. The Buffaloes are a member of the NCAA Division II Lone Star Conference and offers 15 men’s and women’s athletics programs.