Myth in the Modern World

Essays on Intersections with Ideology and Culture

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About the Book

Ubiquitous and enduring, myths are an inherent part of culture. These 10 essays explore the role of myth in the modern world, delving not only into science fiction and fantasy, but also into sport, terrorist rhetoric and television. Contributors contemplate the changing face of the hero in Breaking Bad, Justified and the Japanese film trilogy 20th Century Boys; explore ideology in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice novels and the HBO series Game of Thrones, Showtime’s The L Word, and The Day the Earth Stood Still; and examine Al Qaeda’s use of myth to justify its violent actions. Other essays consider the hero ideal in sport, the wolf myth in Twilight and the comic persona of Hercules in the Travel Channel series Man v. Food. The power of myth, this volume reveals, extends beyond ancient stories of gods and heroes to express the hopes, fears and reality of everyday life.

About the Author(s)

David Whitt is a professor of communication studies at Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln, Nebraska. He teaches mass media, persuasion, communication in the professions, and has taught courses on Star Trek, comic books, and the Irish rock group U2.

John Perlich is a professor of communication studies at Hastings College in Hastings, Nebraska.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by David Whitt and John Perlich
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 240
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2014
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7840-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1449-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments  vi
Introduction  1

Part 1: Envisioning Heroes and Evolving Frontiers
Breaking Bad and Blending Boundaries: Revisioning the Myths of Masculinity and the Superhero (Lisa Weckerle)  7
20th Century Boys: Blending Eastern and Western Storytelling (Michael W. Marek and ­Pin-hsiang Natalie Wu)  33
A Change of Scenery: The Southern, the Western and the Evolution of the Frontier Myth in Justified (Aaron Duncan)  61

Part 2: Right or Left of Center
The Mythology of Suffering and Redemption in the Discourse of Al Qaeda (Jason A. Edwards)  83
Mothers and Monsters: The Return of the Great Goddess in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire (Sharon Dee Goertz)  102
Myth and ­Meaning-Making in Showtime’s The L Word (Judy Battaglia)  123
The Day Environmentalism Stood Still: Film, Myth and the Ecological Jeremiad (Richard D. Besel)  148

Part 3: Reality Bites
Fields of Dreams and Gods of the Gridiron: The Trinity of Myth, Sport and the Hero (Karen L. Hartman)  165
Reclaiming the Wolf Myth in the Shadow of the Twilight Films: The Quileute People’s Exhibit (Lindsay R. Calhoun and Keaton Maddox)  185
The Ultimate Hunger Games: Adam Richman as Comic Hercules in Man v. Food (David Whitt)  207

About the Contributors  227
Index  229