Conan Meets the Academy

Multidisciplinary Essays on the Enduring Barbarian


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About the Book

Robert E. Howard penned a series of fantasy stories in 1932 featuring Conan, a hulking warrior from “Cimmeria” who roamed the mythical Hyborian Age landscape engaging in heroic adventures. More than the quirky manifestation of Depression-era magazines, Conan the Barbarian has endured as a cultural mainstay for over 70 years. This multidisciplinary collection offers the first scholarly investigation of Conan, from Howard’s early stories, through midcentury novels and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s iconic films, to the 2011 cinematic remake of Conan the Barbarian. Drawing on disciplines such as stylometry, archeology, cultural and folklore studies and literary history, the essays examine statistical analyses of the words in Conan texts, the literary genesis of Conan, later-day parodies, Conan video games, and much more. This volume reveals the hidden scholarly depth of this seemingly unsophisticated fictional character.

About the Author(s)

Jonas Prida is Assistant Provost at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Jonas Prida

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 224
Bibliographic Info: 4 maps, 2 photos, tables, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2013
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6152-3
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8989-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface 1
Introduction 5

Part One: The Literary Conan
Hyborian Age Archaeology: Unearthing Historical and Anthropological Foundations  Jeffrey Shanks 13
Barbarism Ascendant: The Poetic and Epistolary Origins of the Character and His World  Frank Coffman 35
Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Women: Gender Dynamics in the Hyborian World  Winter Elliott 51
Robert E. Howard’s Barbarian and the Western: A Study of Conan Through the West and the Western Hero  Daniel Weiss 70
Canaan Lies Beyond the Black River: Howard’s Dark Rhetoric of the Contact Zone  Paul Shovlin 91
Statistics in the Hyborian Age: An Introduction to Stylometry Daniel M. Look 103

Part Two: The Cultural Conan
Arnold at the Gates: Subverting Star Persona in Conan the Barbarian  Nicky Falkof 123
“Hot Avatars” in “Gay Gear”: The Virtual Male Body as Site of Conflicting Desires in Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures James Kelley 144
Fandom and the Nostalgia of Masculinity  Stephen Wall 174
“Barbarian Heroing” and Its Parody: New Perspectives on Masculinity  Imola Bulgozdi 193

About the Contributors 213

Book Reviews & Awards

• Winner, 2013 Robert E. Howard Foundation Award

“Covers Conan in all his various forms, from the original Weird Tales barbarian, to the hulking brute of the Schwarzenegger film, to the various computer-generated avatars in the Age of Conan computer game…a boon to Howard and Howard studies. Though you may not agree with all the essayists’ conclusions, to see Conan given serious treatment as a lasting literary and popular figure is further validation that Howard’s stories are worthy of serious discussion and analysis.”—The Silver Key

“Takes a variety of approaches to the topic, including archaeology, cultural studies, folklore, and literary history”—Communication Booknotes Quarterly

“This collection of 10 essays explores Robert Howard’s Conan the Barbarian from the persepctives of stylometry, cultural studies, archaeology, folklore studies and literary history”—Reference & Research Book News