The ancient Greeks’ concept of “the hero” was very different from what we understand by the term today. In 24 installments, based on the Harvard course Nagy has taught and refined since the 1970s, The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours explores civilization’s roots in Classical literature—a lineage that continues to challenge and inspire us.
The ancient Greeks’ concept of “the hero” was very different from what we understand by the term today. In 24 installments, based on the Harvard course Gregory Nagy has taught and refined since the 1970s, The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours explores civilization’s roots in Classical literature, a lineage that continues to challenge and inspire us.
In Borderlands Saints, Desirée A. Martín examines the rise and fall of popular saints and saint-like figures in the borderlands of the United States and Mexico. Focusing specifically on Teresa Urrea (La Santa de Cabora), Pancho Villa, César Chávez, Subcomandante Marcos, and Santa Muerte, she traces the intersections of these figures, their devotees, artistic representations, and dominant institutions with an eye for the ways in which such unofficial saints mirror traditional spiritual practices and serve specific cultural needs.
Popular spirituality of this kind engages the use and exchange of relics, faith healing, pilgrimages, and spirit possession, exemplifying the contradictions between high and popular culture, human and divine, and secular and sacred. Martín focuses upon a wide range of Mexican and Chicano/a cultural works drawn from the nineteenth century to the present, covering such diverse genres as the novel, the communiqué, drama, the essay or crónica, film, and contemporary digital media. She argues that spiritual practice is often represented as narrative, while narrative—whether literary, historical, visual, or oral—may modify or even function as devotional practice.
This is the first book to study the development of the Cossack hero and to identify him as part of Russian cultural mythology. Kornblatt explores the power of the myth as a literary image, providing new and challenging readings of Pushkin, Gogol, Tolstoi, and a host of other writers.
In this powerful cultural critique, Ariel Dorfman explores the political and social implications of the smiling faces that inhabit familiar books, comics, and magazines. He reveals the ideological messages conveyed in works of popular culture such as the Donald Duck comics, the Babar children’s books, and Reader’s Digest magazine. The Empire’s Old Clothes was widely praised when it was first published in 1983. This edition, including a new preface by the author, makes a contemporary classic newly available.
For most readers and spectators, heroism takes the form of public, idealized masculinity. It calls to mind socially and morally elevated men embarking on active adventures: courageously confronting danger; valiantly rescuing the helpless; exploring and claiming unconquered terrain. But in this book, Mary Beth Rose argues that from the late sixteenth to the late seventeenth centuries, a passive, more female, but equally potent dimension of heroic identity began to dominate English culture. For both men and women, heroism came to be defined in terms of patience, as the ability to endure suffering, catastrophe, and pain.
Interweaving discourses of gender, Rose explores ways in which this heroics of endurance became the dominant model. She examines the glamorous, failed destinies of heroes in plays by Shakespeare, Jonson, and Marlowe; Elizabeth I's creation of a heroic identity in her public speeches; the autobiographies of four ordinary women thrust into the public sphere by civil war; and the seduction of heroes into slavery in works by Milton, Aphra Behn, and Mary Astell. Ultimately, her study demonstrates the importance of the female in the creation of modern heroism, while offering a critique of both idealized action and suffering.
Without resorting to the jargon often employed by contemporary critics, this book covers all major aspects and questions raised by the play. The text contains a thorough examination of the contrast between Athens and its dramatic opposite, Thebes, a contrast best represented by the comparison between each city's primary representative, Theseus or Creon. Wilson offers a radical rereading of the Oedipus riddle and concludes with a substantial discussion of the play's (and playwright's) role in providing a political and moral education for the troubled Athenian polis in the last decade of the tumultuous fifth century.
Joseph P. Wilson is Associate Professor in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at the University of Scranton.
The Hero in Transition
Ray B. Browne University of Wisconsin Press, 1983 Library of Congress E169.1.H365 1983 | Dewey Decimal 973
An investigation of society’s heroes during any time period will reveal the personnel deemed worthy of being emulated at that particular time by that particular society. There will be many old and time-tested figures, sometimes with new faces and new profiles; there will also be a mix of new faces. Thus the hero—like history itself—is constantly in transition, and both the hero and the transition are fundamental to the study of a culture. These essays turn the pantheon of heroes around before our eyes and reveal the many complicated aspects of hero worship.
Mystery fiction, although essentially the same in all its national varieties, nevertheless comes in several types and several wrappings.
The present study of American, Australian, and Canadian detective fiction concerns literature which speaks in the ways of heroes and humanities about the human condition. All authors studied here, to one degree or another, demonstrate their concern with human society, some more strongly than others, but all with their eyes on the human situation and human existence. At times these studies lean toward the tragic in their outlook and development. In all instances they center on the humanistic.
This is the first study of Russian writer Mikhail Lermontov (1814-41) that attempts to integrate the in-depth interpretations of all his major texts--including his famous A Hero of Our Time, the novel that laid the foundation for the Russian psychological novel.
Lermontov's explorations of the virtues and limitations of heroic, self-reliant conduct have subsequently become obscured or misread. This new book focuses upon the peculiar, disturbing, and arguably most central feature of Russian culture: its suspicion of and hostility toward individual achievement and self-assertion. The analysis and interpretation of Lermontov's texts enables Golstein to address broader cultural issues by exploring the reasons behind the persistent misreading of Lermontov's major works and by investigating the cultural attitudes that shaped Russia's reaction to the challenges of modernity.
The plots of Homeric poems depend upon the uncertainty of Odysseus and Achilles getting what they want, while the endings imply that getting what one wants may itself be a disaster. By examining specific episodes of the Odyssey, Mark Buchan illustrates the centrality of hazard and doubt to decision-making, and argues that such uncertainty affects not only the heroes themselves, but also the world around them. Buchan goes on to introduce the paradoxes of female desire in the poems, uncovering the ways that female desire at once upholds and threatens the poems' heroic male ideology. Finally, The Limits of Heroism questions the interplay between desire and ideals of heroism, and finds that the poems critique the very ideology that motivates their heroes.
African American writers have incorporated Martin Luther King Jr. into their work since he rose to prominence in the mid-1950s. Martin Luther King Jr., Heroism, and African American Literature is a study by award-winning author Trudier Harris of King’s character and persona as captured and reflected in works of African American literature continue to evolve.
One of the most revered figures in American history, King stands above most as a hero. His heroism, argues Harris, is informed by African American folk cultural perceptions of heroes. Brer Rabbit, John the Slave, Stackolee, and Railroad Bill—folk heroes all—provide a folk lens through which to view King in contemporary literature. Ambiguities and issues of morality that surround trickster figures also surround King. Nonconformist traits that define Stackolee and Railroad Bill also inform King’s life and literary portraits. Defiance of the law, uses of indirection, moral lapses, and bad habits are as much a part of the folk-transmitted biography of King as they are a part of writers’ depictions of him in literary texts.
Harris first demonstrates that during the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s, when writers such as Nikki Giovanni, Sonia Sanchez, and LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka) were rising stars in African American poetry, King’s philosophy of nonviolence was out of step with prevailing notions of militancy (Black Power), and their literature reflected that division.
In the quieter times of the 1970s and 1980s and into the twenty-first century, however, treatments of King and his philosophy in African American literature changed. Writers who initially rejected him and nonviolence became ardent admirers and boosters, particularly in the years following his assassination. By the 1980s, many writers skeptical about King had reevaluated him and began to address him as a fallen hero. To the most recent generation of writers, such as Katori Hall, King is fair game for literary creation, no matter what those portrayals may reveal, to a point where King has become simply another source of reference for creativity.
Collectively these writers, among many others, illustrate that Martin Luther King Jr. provides one of the strongest influences upon the creative worlds of multiple generations of African American writers of varying political and social persuasions.
Eberhard Happel, German Baroque author of an extensive body of work of fiction and nonfiction, has for many years been categorized as a “courtly-gallant” novelist. In Mediating Culture in the Seventeenth-Century German Novel, author Gerhild Scholz Williams argues that categorizing him thus is to seriously misread him and to miss out on a fascinating perspective on this dynamic period in German history.
Happel primarily lived and worked in the vigorous port city of Hamburg, which was a “media center” in terms of the access it offered to a wide library of books in public and private collections. Hamburg’s port status meant it buzzed with news and information, and Happel drew on this flow of data in his novels. His books deal with many topics of current interest—national identity formation, gender and sexualities, Western European encounters with neighbors to the East, confrontations with non-European and non-Western powers and cultures—and they feature multiple media, including news reports, news collections, and travel writings. As a result, Happel’s use of contemporary source material in his novels feeds our current interest in the impact of the production of knowledge on seventeenth-century narrative. Mediating Culture in the Seventeenth-Century German Novel explores the narrative wealth and multiversity of Happel’s work, examines Happel’s novels as illustrative of seventeenth-century novel writing in Germany, and investigates the synergistic relationship in Happel’s writings between the booming print media industry and the evolution of the German novel.
This book is a literary history of the Noble Savage and a comprehensive metamorphology of the American mind. Wide-ranging and deep-diving, this book suggests many reevaluations of American heroes and attitudes.
Most readers think that superheroes began with Superman’s appearance in Action Comics No. 1, but that Kryptonian rocket didn’t just drop out of the sky. By the time Superman’s creators were born, the superhero’s most defining elements—secret identities, aliases, disguises, signature symbols, traumatic origin stories, extraordinary powers, self-sacrificing altruism—were already well-rehearsed standards. Superheroes have a sprawling, action-packed history that predates the Man of Steel by decades and even centuries. On the Origin of Superheroes is a quirky, personal tour of the mythology, literature, philosophy, history, and grand swirl of ideas that have permeated western culture in the centuries leading up to the first appearance of superheroes (as we know them today) in 1938.
From the creation of the universe, through mythological heroes and gods, to folklore, ancient philosophy, revolutionary manifestos, discarded scientific theories, and gothic monsters, the sweep and scale of the superhero’s origin story is truly epic. We will travel from Jane Austen’s Bath to Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Mars to Owen Wister’s Wyoming, with some surprising stops along the way. We’ll meet mad scientists, Napoleonic dictators, costumed murderers, diabolical madmen, blackmailers, pirates, Wild West outlaws, eugenicists, the KKK, Victorian do-gooders, detectives, aliens, vampires, and pulp vigilantes (to name just a few). Chris Gavaler is your tour guide through this fascinating, sometimes dark, often funny, but always surprising prehistory of the most popular figure in pop culture today. In a way, superheroes have always been with us: they are a fossil record of our greatest aspirations and our worst fears and failings.
The trickster and the hero, found in so many of the world’s oral traditions, are seemingly opposed but often united in one character. Trickster and Hero provides a comparative look at a rich array of world oral traditions, folktales, mythologies, and literatures—from The Odyssey, The Epic of Gilgamesh, and Beowulf to Native American and African tales. Award-winning folklorist Harold Scheub explores the “Trickster moment,” the moment in the story when the tale, the teller, and the listener are transformed: we are both man and woman, god and human, hero and villain.
Scheub delves into the importance of trickster mythologies and the shifting relationships between tricksters and heroes. He examines protagonists that figure centrally in a wide range of oral narrative traditions, showing that the true hero is always to some extent a trickster as well. The trickster and hero, Scheub contends, are at the core of storytelling, and all the possibilities of life are there: we are taken apart and rebuilt, dismembered and reborn, defeated and renewed.