The American Success Myth on Film

Overview

Contemporary cultural narratives, like ancient myths, speak to our common aspirations, anxieties, and perplexities. These ritually retold stories help to create a sense of communal identity. The American Success Myth on Film considers how movies, as bearers of modern myths, have illuminated – if not resolved – the ideological contradictions at the heart of the American idea of success. In examining the enduring appeal that the success myth exerts on our collective imagination, it highlights the central role that ...

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The American Success Myth on Film

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Overview

Contemporary cultural narratives, like ancient myths, speak to our common aspirations, anxieties, and perplexities. These ritually retold stories help to create a sense of communal identity. The American Success Myth on Film considers how movies, as bearers of modern myths, have illuminated – if not resolved – the ideological contradictions at the heart of the American idea of success. In examining the enduring appeal that the success myth exerts on our collective imagination, it highlights the central role that films have played in the ongoing cultural conversation about success and work in America. Analyses of a range of movies from the late 1920s to the present are grounded in the history of rags-to-riches tales and in a consideration of the social functions of myth. This expansive analysis of the American success myth exposes the insistent, but sometimes implicit, attitudes toward success that infuse our cultural narratives and, not incidentally, underlie our national self-image, our public discourse, and our personal ideals.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
''The American Dream' and its treatment in movies has yet to be dealt with in book length form, which makes this a significant work. It is of a very high quality, well written, and expertly researched." — Robert Sickels, Professor of Film, Whitman College

"The promise of social mobility is the heart and soul of America's ongoing self-romance, not to mention an obsessive theme of our national cinema. In this lucid and entertaining examination of the filmic success story, Julie Levinson exposes the twinge of self-doubt that underpins the mythology. This is also a particularly timely book given our current economic woes: the question of how such fantasies are maintained (despite all evidence to the contrary) couldn't be more politically pertinent." — Laura Kipnis, Northwestern University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780230363366
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 6/19/2012
  • Pages: 232
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

JULIE LEVINSON is a film professor at Babson College, USA. She has been the film curator for several organizations including the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston and New England Foundation for the Arts. Her publications have focused on genre films, gender representation, and metafictive narrative.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements
Top of the World: Cultural Narratives, Myths, and Movies
Moving Up and Moving On: Mobility and the American Success Myth
Work and its Discontents: The Corporate Workplace Movie
Success Reassessed: Ambitious Women/Midlife Men
Hallelujah, I'm a Bum: The Glorification of Unemployment
Conclusion
Bibliography
Filmography
Notes
Index

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