Examining how we interpret Welshness today, this volume brings together fourteen essays covering a full range of representations of Welsh mythology, folklore, and ritual in popular culture. Topics covered include the twentieth-century fantasy fiction of Evangeline Walton, the Welsh presence in the films of Walt Disney, Welshness in folk music, video games, and postmodern literature. Together, these interdisciplinary essays explore the ways that Welsh motifs have proliferated in this age of cultural cross-pollination, spreading worldwide the myths of one small British nation.
|Publisher:||McFarland & Company, Incorporated Publishers|
|Series:||Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy , #33|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.47(d)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
Audrey L. Becker is an assistant professor of English literature at Marygrove College in Detroit, Michigan. She writes on the intersection between Renaissance literature and cultural studies. Kristin Noone is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of California, Riverside; her dissertation links medieval romance, fantasy fiction, and popular culture studies. She publishes academic articles on fantasy and medievalism as well as short fantasy fiction.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
Introduction: Re-Imagining Wales
AUDREY L. BECKER and KRISTIN NOONE 1
Celtic Studies and Modern Fantasy Literature
C.W. SULLIVAN III 9
“The Rough, Savage Strength of Earth”: Evangeline Walton’s Human Heroes and Mythic Spaces
KRISTIN NOONE 18
Branwen’s Shame: Voicing the Silent Feminine in Evangeline Walton’s The Children of Llyr
NICOLE A. THOMAS 30
Disavowing Maternity in Evangeline Walton’s The Virgin and the Swine: Fantasy Meets the Social Protest Fiction of the 1930s
DEBORAH HOOKER 42
“An Age-Old Memory”: Arthur Machen’s Celtic Redaction of the Welsh Revival in The Great Return
GEOFFREY REITER 61
Magical Goods, “Orphaned” Exchanges, Punishment and Power in the Fourth Branch of the Mabinogi
SUSANA BROWER 81
The Hand at the Window: Twm Siôn Cati, the Welsh Colonial Trickster
JONATHAN EVANS and STEPHEN KNIGHT 91
An Irregular Union: Exploring the Welsh Connection to a Popular African-American Wedding Ritual
TYLER D. PARRY 108
Constructing Myth in Music: Heather Dale, King Arthur and “Culhwch and Olwen”
MEGAN MACALYSTRE 130
Torchwood’s “Spooky-Do’s”: A Popular Culture Perspective on Celtic Mythology
LYNNETTE R. PORTER 140
Everyday Magic: Howl’s Moving Castle and Fantasy as Sociopolitical Commentary
CAROLYNN E. WILCOX 160
Loosely Based: The Problems of Adaptation in Disney’s The Black Cauldron
JEFF HICKS 171
We’re Not in Cymru Anymore: What’s Really Happening in the Online Mabinogi
CLAY KINCHEN SMITH 182
Temporality, Teleology and the Mabinogi in the Twenty-First Century
AUDREY L. BECKER 195
Further Reading 213
About the Contributors 219
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
As a collection of essays chosen because they are loosely based on the theme of "Welsh Mythology and Folklore (in Popular, if not Contemporary, Culture)", it is to be expected that this book is a bit hit-or-miss, and will be more interesting to someone who is fairly familiar with Welsh mythology. The essays are grouped so that the first set focus on literature and traditions of the past, particularly the works of Evangeline Walton for a number of essays, while the second set looks at much more contemporary popular culture and Welsh mythology and folklore. Thus, I personally found that the second group were more accessible to me, as I am much more familiar with more recent examples than the earlier ones.Nonetheless, each essay varies with style and accessibility, as is to be expected. While most of those looking at a very specific work (such as Walton's tetrology, the television series Torchwood, or the Chronicles of Prydain, if not the Four Branches of the Mabinogi itself) tend to assume at least some familiarity with the work in question, others are written so that one needn't have prior knowledge at all - I was particularly taken with the essay "Everyday Magic: Howl's Moving Castle and Fantasy as Sociopolitical Commentary": though I'd never read the book or seen the movie, I was able to follow the arguments easily and am now curious enough to seek out Jones's novel.I had hoped when I came across the book that there would be more general essays about how Welsh mythology and folklore appear in popular culture, and how those depictions or traditions vary from historical sources. But, of course, I didn't realize the book is from the "Critical Explorations" series. There are a few essays that do take this angle, however. "Celtic Studies and Modern Fantasy Literature", "'An Age-Old Memory': Arthur Machen's Celtic Redaction of the Welsh Revival in The Great Return", "Magical Goods, 'Orphaned' Exchanges, Punishment and Power in the Fourth Branch of the Mabinogi", "The Hand at the Window: Twm Siôn Cati, the Welsh Colonial Trickster", and "An Irregular Union: Exploring the Welsh Connection to a Popular African-American Wedding Ritual" were all in that camp and were worth reading.Commenting on the individual essays and their content or worth is beyond my ability, since I was forced to skim or even skip a few. However, there were two I read that stood out as being particularly poor additions to the collection. The first is the one about Torchwood - while I looked forward to reading a critical take about Welsh mythology and folklore in the tv series, the essay wasn't very focused and seemed to lose track of its point from time to time. The second is "We're Not in Cymru Anymore: What's Really Happening in the Online Mabinogi", which is a long rant about how horrible the RPG Mabinogi is because the only link it has to Welshness is the title - everything else is either Irish or Asian (it is, after all, a Korean game). There was a strange disconnect as I read it, because I don't particularly find mash-ups of different folklore or mythology to create new fantasy worlds to be inherently bad or wrong, and I don't have a problem with an RPG using a medieval theme while the primary attraction is in-game commerce. The author spent the essay ranting about these things (including the fact that the Korean creators used anime-style art!) instead of discussing why neomedievalism as defined by Umberto Eco is so bad in this instance (though it is stated as such) or why the use of a distinctly Welsh title for a not-at-all Welsh game would have been done.
I'm going to pretty much agree with what an earlier reviewer said about this book: it was an interesting concept and I enjoyed a few of the essays, but I ended up skimming a lot. I'm really into mythology so I thought I'd be able to get into this book, but most of what it was referencing were things I'd neither read nor seen. In a way, this is a good thing, though; now I'm curious about the books and movies and such that were mentioned in the essays and I'm going to go seek them out. I think I'll enjoy this book more once I'm familiar with all the things it's talking about, so the number of stars I'm giving here is likely to change later.
Some of the essays were interesting, but some were very dry and couldn't hold my attention; I ended up skimming a few of them. This is one of those books I'll be glad to have one day, but for now I really can't give it more than 3 stars.
An interesting and diverse collection of papers, ranging from an analysis of Gwydion¿s methods and motives in the Mabinogion itself, through various reworkings of that core material in novels, films, and even on-line gaming, to a discussion of Heather Dale¿s Arthurian songs and the use of Welsh folklore motifs in the Doctor Who spinoff Torchwood. While I feel that three chapters out of fourteen devoted to Evangeline Walton¿s work is excessive when there are many more worthy topics (Alan Garner's The Owl Service and Susan Cooper's The Grey King come to mind), there should be something here to appeal to most devotees of Welsh mythology and folklore.
This collection of articles surprised me by being more well researched then I initially expected. It provides great information on the impact of Welsh mythology on films and books. I would have preferred a bit of commentary to tie the articles together, this book comes across as more of an literary journal than a book.
While reading this book of essays, I had flashbacks to my freshman year of college because of each essay is written in academic style and interpretation. The central theme that unites all of the essays is the integrations of classical welsh mythology into modern culture. The book¿s focus audience of the authors are readers, who possess comprehensive knowledge about this mythology, especially a set of stories called the Mabinogian. Unfortunately, I like most people, do not have this knowledge, which made the majority of the essays confusing and a bit dry. The essays pertaining to specific areas of modern culture such as Howls Moving Castle, Torchwood, and Disney¿s the Black Cauldron, that I am familiar with, were great fun to read. This set of essays is ideal for people who have an expert understanding of the Welsh mythology or are in a mythology class; otherwise I would not recommend it.
An Early Reviewer win.The essays in this book are quite interesting. I'd never really thought how Welsh folklore has influenced popular culture. Some instances are fairly obvious--Evangeline Walton's Mabinogion tetralogy, The Black Cauldron (and the essay about that was quite fascinating). I hadn't realized there was a Mabinogi online game, and given what I learned about it, I certainly won't be playing (seriously, Celtic cultures are not interchangeable). There is a videogame called Rhiannon: Curse of the Four Branches that I was previously unaware of. I have played it, but I'm a little stuck right now. The most disappointing essay, to me, was the one on Torchwood. I haven't watched it, but the beginning of the esaay certainly made it sound like something I'd like. However, there were two problems with this essay. One was that it became repetitive about halfway through. The second is a problem with sources. There are plenty of good books on Wicca out there, but they chose to use Edain McCoy. She's a terrible source. She invents her own versions of history. For instance, in one of her books, she states that there was an ancient Irish potato goddess. (The potato didn't make it to Ireland until the sixteenth century--it's a New World crop.) The use of a such a source makes me question every assumption the authors make (unless it's backed up by a different source).So on the whole, an interesting book, though there are some problems.
I decided to ask for "Welsh Mythology and Folklore in Popular Culture..." because I'm fairly interested in mythology. My interests often lie in Greek/Roman, Irish, and Egyptian, but I was interested to learn more about Welsh mythology and how it tied into culture. The essays are a bit scholarly for a beginner, though that may be expected for a compilation like this, so I found some of them to be difficult to get through. I also found that because the essays were focused on specific works and adaptations that, because I was not entirely familiar with the popular culture adaptation, I was not very interested in the essay. Overall I thought this was not necessarily a bad compilation, I just wish I knew more about the subject in general--so I recommend picking up some sort of beginner's book on Welsh mythology and folklore before tackling this.
Welsh mythology is often overlooked in modern culture, but it exists right alongside traditional Celtic and British mythology. This book shows, through a collection of essays, exactly how integrated Welsh myth and folklore is in our pop culture. The first few essays define Welsh mythology and how the meanings and morals are universal enough to carry through history to today. Then the essays go on to describe specific examples of Welsh myth in things such as music and movies. Popular shows and movies, such as Torchwood, Howl's Moving Castle, and The Black Cauldron, use well known Welsh myths and ideals. This book is an excellent read for anyone interested in the world of Wales.