American Dreamtime / Edition 1

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Despite America's practical and technological aims, the money spent on film and sports events tends to convey an image of a whimsical nation. This work explores these conflicting images through an analysis of movies, revealing the ties that daily activity and thought have with a world of myth.

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Editorial Reviews

Michael Herzfeld
In a radical challenge to both anthropology and the popular imagination, Drummond's marvelously irreverent wit probes the extraordinary fascination with both animal and machine through which popular entertainments grapple with the boundaries of human identity.
Paul Stoller
An important work in contemporary social theory. Presents well-constructed arguments that simply cannot be ignored.
Richard J. Parmentier
In his innovative and original study of popular American films Drummond finds a virtual forest of symbols-not disembodied, language-based meanings but of pervasive images of machines and animals that are generative of the mythic ambiguities of American culture.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822630470
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group Inc
  • Publication date: 3/26/1996
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.79 (d)

Table of Contents

1 Introduction 1
Beginning at the Beginning 1
An Anthropologist Goes to the Movies 2
Cultural Anthropology and the Movies 6
Which Movies? 11
An Anthropologist Goes to the Movies, Take 2 18
2 The Primacy of Myth 23
What Is Myth? 23
The Nature of Myth 27
The Foundations of a Cultural Analysis of Myth 29
A Semiotic Approach to Modern Culture: Myth Today, Totemism Today 36
Myth and Language 44
3 A Theory of Culture as Semiospace 51
Before and Beyond Language: Cultural Anthropology, Quantum Mechanics, and Cosmology 51
Metaphor, Quality Space, and Semiospace 56
Dimensionality in Nature and Culture 59
Processual Analysis and Cultural Dimensionality: Liminality, Social Drama, and Social Field 72
Intersystem and Continuum 76
Cultural Generativity 88
The Semiotic Dimensions of Culture 96
4 The Story of Bond 127
James Bond: An American Myth? 127
How to Do - and Not to Do - Cultural Analysis: The Novel-Bond and the Movie-Bond 130
Gadgets and Gladiators: The Master of Machines 137
Low Brows and High Stakes: Bond Movies in a World of Consumer Capitalism 148
Folklore Past: James Bond, Wild Bill Hickok, and John Henry 153
Folklore Present: Secret Agents, Football Players, and Rock Stars 160
The Story of America 167
5 Metaphors Be with You: A Cultural Analysis of Star Wars 169
A Bookstore Browse 169
Inside the Theatre: Semiosis in Star Wars 172
Outside the Theatre: Luke Skywalker, James Bond, and Indiana Jones in the Temple of the Technological State 185
Gone to Look for (Post-Literate) America 196
6 It and Other Beasts: Jaws and the New Totemism 199
The Fish: An Anthropologist Goes to the Movie Studio 199
Totemic Animals in a Technological Age 202
The Fish Takes a Bite: The Myth of Ecology and the Ecology of Myth 206
The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea: The Story of Chief Brody, The Great White Shark...and Flipper 218
The Collapse of a Dichotomy: Mechanistic Animals and Animalistic Machines in Jaws and Jurassic Park 229
7 Phone Home: E.T. as a Saga of the American Family 241
From Creature Feature and Saucer Saga to E.T. 241
What is E.T.? 243
Machines at Home: The Suburban Family in a Technological State 247
Monsters at Home: E.T. and Poltergeist 253
Ambivalence at Home: The Myth of Family 256
8 Conclusions 261
Understanding Our Movies and Ourselves: Cultural Analysis and Film Criticism 261
The Logic of Things That Just Happen: The Sandpile and Cellular Automaton as Models of Cultural Process 265
Something Else 283
Notes 291
References 311
Index of Movies 319
Index 323
Note on the Author 335
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