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From the Gunfighter Myth to Rock Performance: Transposition and Intermedial References in Sam Shepard’s The Tooth of Crime

Sam Shepard’s The Tooth of Crime (1972) is a play that combines elements of myth, Greek tragedy, science fiction, Westerns, modern rock and roll and futuristic fantasy in a provocative and engrossing pastiche. Shepard’s transgeneric network also provides a model to observe the media combination (of music and play) and media transformation (from film to theatre). Situated at the intersection of performance studies and intermedial studies, this essay explores how the playwright presents these intermedial relations and what effects he hopes to achieve. More specifically, Shepard transplants the gunfighter myth constructed by Hollywood Westerns into rock performance, and transforms the traditional story of gunfight and cowboy showdown into a musical duel between two rock stars through the use of transposition and intermedial references. In this ongoing process, the classic Western motifs like competition, showdown and “survival of the fittest” is revisited and criticized in the rock music scene. It could be argued that frontier stories and images “travel” across the borders between film, music, and theatre, become invested with new meanings, and thus gain a new lease of cultural life in changing sociocultural contexts. The transmedial travel of those stories and images has contributed to the persistence of the frontier myth on the one hand, and to the discovery of the potential of cultural mobility on the other.

Sam Shepard, The Tooth of Crime, Gunfighter Myth, Rock Performance, Transposition, Intermdial References, Cultural Mobility

APA Style

Guo Jiabin. (2023). From the Gunfighter Myth to Rock Performance: Transposition and Intermedial References in Sam Shepard’s The Tooth of Crime. International Journal of Literature and Arts, 11(4), 208-214. https://doi.org/10.11648/j.ijla.20231104.17

ACS Style

Guo Jiabin. From the Gunfighter Myth to Rock Performance: Transposition and Intermedial References in Sam Shepard’s The Tooth of Crime. Int. J. Lit. Arts 2023, 11(4), 208-214. doi: 10.11648/j.ijla.20231104.17

AMA Style

Guo Jiabin. From the Gunfighter Myth to Rock Performance: Transposition and Intermedial References in Sam Shepard’s The Tooth of Crime. Int J Lit Arts. 2023;11(4):208-214. doi: 10.11648/j.ijla.20231104.17

Copyright © 2023 Authors retain the copyright of this article.
This article is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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