American Mythologies

BookAmerican Mythologies

American Mythologies

New Essays on Contemporary Literature


May 1st, 2005

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This challenging new book looks at the current reinvention of American Studies: a reinvention that, among other things, has put the whole issue of just what is ‘American’ and what is ‘American Studies’ into contention. The collection focuses, in particular, on American mythology. The editors themselves have written essays that examine the connections between mythologies of the United States and those of either classical European or Native American traditions. William Blazek considers Louise Erdrich’s Love Medicine novels as chronicles combining Ojibwa mythology and contemporary U.S. culture in ways that reinvest a sense of mythic identity within a multicultural, postmodern America. Michael K Glenday’s analysis of Jayne Anne Phillips’ work and explores in it the contexts where myth and dream interact with each other. Betty Louise Bell is one of four essayists in this collection who focus their criticism on authors of Native American heritage. In the first part of ‘Indians with Voices’, Bell carefully argues that Roy Harvey Pearce’s seminal Native American studies text Savagism and Civilization fails to acknowledge its white elitist assumptions about what constitutes The American Mind and views Native Americans along a primitive-savage binary that helped to create a twentieth-century ‘national mythos of innocence and destiny’. Other essays include Christopher Brookeman’s study of the impact of Muhammad Ali on Norman Mailer’s non-fiction writing about heavyweight boxing.

An essential set of literary-critical commentaries on one of the most important pathways to understanding American culture. The diverse essays in American Mythologies bring the subject up to date by contextualizing myth within both multi-culturalism and postmodernism.
Chris Messenger

Author Information

Dr William Blazek teaches at Liverpool Hope University College. His research interests includes the work of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Dr Michael Glenday teaches at the Open University. Previous publications include Norman Mailer (Palgrave Modern Novelists, Palgrave Macmillan, 1995) and Saul Bellow and the Decline in Humanism (Palgrave Macmillan, 1990)

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Title Page3
1: Indians with Voices: Revisiting Savagism and Civilization25
2: Wild Hope: Love, Money and Mythic Identity in the Novels of Louise Erdrich39
3: Float like a Butterfly, Sting like a Bee: Mythologies of Representation in Selected Writings on Boxing by Norman Mailer57
4: The Secret Sharing: Myth and Memory in the Writing of Jayne Anne Phillips73
5: The Individual’s Ghost: Towards a New Mythology of the Postmodern89
6: ‘Cheap, On Sale, American Dream’: Contemporary Asian American Women Writers’ Responses to American Success Mythologies115
7: ‘No Way Back Forever’: American Western Myth in Cormac McCarthy’s Border Trilogy138
8: Native American Visions of Apocalypse: Prophecy and Protest in the Fiction of Leslie Marmon Silko and Gerald Vizenor167
9: The Brave New World of Computing in Post-war American Science Fiction178
10: Mythologies of ‘Ecstatic immersion’: America, The Poem and the Ethics of Lyric in Jorie Graham and Lisa Jarnot212
11: Whose Myth is it Anyway? Coyote in the Poetry of Gary Snyder and Simon J. Ortiz236
12: Aging, Anxious and Apocalyptic: Baseball’s Myths for the Millennium253
13: Finding a Voice, Telling a Story: Constructing Communal Identity in Contemporary American Women’s Writing277
Notes on Contributors305