by Laura A. Shamas

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Product Details

BN ID: 2940014589765
Publisher: Telemachus Press, LLC
Publication date: 07/08/2012
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 216
File size: 744 KB

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POP MYTHOLOGY: COLLECTED ESSAYS 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In this collection of essays, some previously published, others appearing for the first time, Dr. Shamas draws our attention to the intersection of pop culture and myth. The author is a mythologist – a writer and a teacher whose work explores the relevance of myth as a way of understanding how certain narrative structures shape our perceptions of reality. Shamas builds upon the tradition established by the late Joseph Campbell, whose Hero With a Thousand Faces established, among other things, how the unconscious mind apprehends reality through symbol, myth, and enduring archetypes. Why do certain narrative structures or personality types, whether drawn from the latest political scandal or embedded in a current Hollywood blockbuster, often contain such potent psychological power? What draws us to them emotionally, why do they obsess us, enthrall us? Shamas’s essays, thankfully written for the non-specialist and thus free of academic jargon, demonstrate how the power of myth lies at the heart of much of what in our modern culture ends up as “pop”, whether it be the Academy Awards (hero worship) or the popularity of Martha Stewart (the Greek hearth goddess, Hestia). She explores why ancient fascination with stories about gods and goddesses can be likened to our modern fascination with personalities in the news, as in Hillary Clinton’s attempt to establish a political presence independent of her husband’s (Hera). Shamas’s analysis of 2001: A Space Odyssey is among the most insightful summaries of that film I have ever read. We learn how at every turn of the plot, mythological elements are present whose function is to guide the audience towards realizing that “human experience is one of eternal struggle, with the brain at war with the heart.” Her parsing of George W. Bush’s 2000 nomination acceptance speech should be read by every speech writer in the country for how it recasts Bush’s life as analogous to the trajectory of an ancient combat myth. Overall, a very interesting and enjoyable book.