Texas Tech University

Sara Spurgeon


Email: sara.spurgeon@ttu.edu

Ph.D. University of Arizona
Literature-American West and Southwest

Spurgeon works in literatures of the American West and Southwest, as well as nature/environmental writing, gender studies, and critical indigenous and decolonial theory. She is the author of Exploding the Western: Myths of Empire on the Postmodern Frontier, co-author of Writing the Southwest, editor of the critical anthology Cormac McCarthy, and co-editor of Weird Westerns: Race, Gender, Genre. She has published essays on Ana Castillo, Cormac McCarthy, Brokeback Mountain, and indigenous speculative fiction, comics, and sci fi. She founded and co-directs the Literature, Social Justice, and Environment Program (LSJE) in the Department of English, which includes a graduate concentration and undergraduate minor. In 2019/2020, Spurgeon was a Fulbright Professor of American Literature and Culture at the University of Bergen, Norway.

Dr. Spurgeon's professional headshot

Edited Collections

  • Weird Westerns: Race, Gender, GenreCo-editors Michael Johnson, Kerry Fine, and Rebecca Lush.  University of Nebraska Press. 2020.
  • Cormac McCarthy:  All the Pretty Horses, No Country for Old Men, The Road.  Continuum Studies in Contemporary North American Fiction Series.  London: Continuum Publishing Group.  2011.  (176 pages)


  • Exploding the Western:  Myths of Empire on the Postmodern Frontier.  College Station, TX:  Texas A&M University Press.  2005.  (168 pages)
  • Writing the Southwest, revised second edition.  With David K. Dunaway.  Albuquerque:  University of New Mexico Press. 2003.  (268 pages)
  • Writing the Southwest.  With David K. Dunaway.  New York: Plume/Penguin. 1995.  (256 pages)


  • Ana Castillo:  Western Writers Series (No. 163).  Boise:  Boise State University Press. 2004. (Monograph booklet, 56 pages)

Recent Articles 

  • "'The bomb was like the Indians':  Trickster Mimetics and Native Nationalism in Martin Cruz Smith's The Indians Won," American Quarterly, 66.4 (2014): 999-1020.
  • Interview with Larry McMurtry, Southwestern American Literature, 40.1 (Fall 2014):  47-79.
  • "Miracles in the Desert:  Literature, Water, and Public Discourse in the American West," ISLE (Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and the Environment). 16.3 (2009)
  • "The Cyborg Coyote:  Generating Theory in the Borderlands," Southwestern American Literature. 24.2 (2009)
  • "Mimesis and the Bomb: Race, Masculinity, and (de) Colonial Identities in Martin Cruz Smith's Stallion Gate," Southwestern American Literature. 34.1 (2008): 29-40.
  • "Conversing Brokeback Mountain's Varied Spaces and Contested Desires," With Scott Baugh, O. Alan Weltzien, and Donovan Gwinner, Intertexts. 10.2 (2007).
  • "Pledged in Blood":  Truth and Redemption in Cormac McCarthy's All the Pretty Horses," Western American Literature. 34.1 (1999) : 24-44.

Essays/Chapters in Books

  • “Indians, Aliens, and Superheroes: Countering Silence and the Invisual in David Mack's Echo: Vision Quest.” Aesthetic Apprehensions: Silences and Absences in False Familiarities. Eds. Lene Johannessen and Jena Lee Habegger-Conti. Lanham, MD:  Lexington Books.  Due 2020. 
  • “Introduction,” Weird Westerns: Race, Gender, Genre. Co-authors Kerry Fine, Rebecca Lush, and Michael Johnson. Eds. Kerry Fine, Rebecca Lush, Michael Johnson, and Sara Spurgeon. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. 2020. 
  • “Indianizing the Western: Semiotic Tricksterism in William Sanders' Journey to Fusang.” Weird Westerns: Race, Gender, Genre. Eds. Kerry Fine, Rebecca Lush, Michael Johnson, and Sara Spurgeon. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. 2020.
  • "The Removes of Harriot Stuart:  Charlotte Lennox and the Birth of the Western."  Before the West was West, ed. Amy Hamilton and Tom Hillard.  University of Nebraska Press, 2014.
  • "Introduction."  Cormac McCarthy:  All the Pretty Horses, No Country for Old Men, The Road, ed. Sara Spurgeon.   London:  Continuum Press. 2011.  1-23.
  • "The Sacred Hunter and the Eucharist of the Wilderness: Mythic Reconstructions in Blood Meridian." Cormac McCarthy:  New Visions, ed. James Lilley. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. 2002. 75-99.

Book Reviews (invited)

  • Narrating the American West:  New Forms of Historical Memory.  Jordana Finnegan.  For Western American Literature.  44.1 (Spring 2009) : 79-80.
  • Mary Austin's Southwest: An Anthology of Her Literary Criticism.  Ed. Chelsea Blackbird and Barney Nelson.  For Western American Literature.  41.4 (2007) : 471-472.
  • Indian Country: Travels in the American Southwest, 1840-1935.  Martin Padget.  For Western American Literature.  40.4 (2006) : 487-488.
  • Continuum Contemporaries Reader's Guide to Cormac McCarthy's All the Pretty Horses. Stephen Tatum.  For Western American Literature.  38.1 (2003) : 101-102. 
  • Myth, Legend, Dust: Critical Responses to Cormac McCarthy, ed. Rick Wallach. For Western American Literature.  37.4 (2003) : 504.
  • Women Singing in the Snow:  A Cultural analysis of Chicana Literature.Tey Diana Rebolledo. For Western American Literature.   33.1 (1997) : 141-142.
  • Yellow Woman and a Beauty of the Spirit:  Essays on Native American Life Today.  Leslie Marmon Silko. For Western American Literature. 31.2 (1996) : 171-172.

Encyclopedia Entries (invited)

  • "Frank Waters". The Literary Encyclopedia. 10 March 2009.
 [http://www.litencyc.com/php/speople.php?rec=true&UID=5714, accessed 14 August 2009.]
  • "Teresa in Ana Castillo's Mixquiahuala Letters."  Student Encyclopedia of American Literary Characters, volume 1.  Ed. M.J. Bruccoli and R. Layman.  NY:  Facts on File.  (2008) : 159-161.


  • "Joy Harjo" program script, with David K. Dunaway, for "Writing the Southwest," an NEH sponsored, thirteen-part radio documentary series, aired nationally on public and community radio stations, October 1996.
  • "John Nichols" program script, with David K. Dunaway, for "Writing the Southwest."

Short Fiction

  • "Riverman." Paradise. Eds. Childrey, Sink and Meece. Sarasota, FL: Florida Literary Foundation Press. 1993. 164-173.
  • "Palace Avenue." The Bridge: A Journal of Fiction and Poetry. 2.2 (1992) : 40-53.
  • "White is White." The Bridge: A Journal of Fiction and Poetry. .3 (1992) : 101-107.
  • "The Plant Lady." Stiller's Pond. Eds. Agee, Blakely, and Welch. 2nd Edition. St. Paul, MN:New Rivers Press. 1991. 438-442.
  • 'White is White." Side Show. Eds. Anderson, Jacobs, and Stolz. El Cerrito, CA: Somersault Press. 1991. 212-217.
  • "The Plant Lady." Hudson Valley Echoes: A National Journal of Prose and Poetry. 3.21 (1991): 30-35.



  • President's Faculty Fellow, Office of the President, Texas Tech University, 2013/2014


  • Nominee--Annette Kolodny Prize for Best Essay on Environment and Culture (for "Miracles in the Desert: Literature, Water, and Public Discourse in the American West) 2010
  • Nominee--Thomas J. Lyon Award for Best Book on the Literature and Culture of the American West (for Exploding the Western: Myths of Empire on the Postmodern Frontier) 2005
  • Recipient--University of Arizona Provost Author's Support Fund Award (for Exploding the Western: Myths of Empire on the Postmodern Frontier) 2004


  • Director of Graduate Studies, 2014-2015
  • President, Western Literature Association, 2012
  • Co-Director, LSJE (Literature, Social Justice, Environment) Concentration, Texas Tech University Department of English, 2008-Present
  • Co-Editor, Literature and Culture Handbook Series, Bloomsbury Publishing
  • Member, Editorial Board, Western American Literature: Quarterly Journal of the Western Literature Association
  • Member, Editorial Board, Western Writers Series, Boise State University Press


  • Modern Languages Association
  • Western Literature Association
  • Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment
  • American Studies Association
  • Phi Kappa Phi Academic Honor Society