Monday, April 23, 2012

Beyond the Myth: New Perspectives on Western Texts

David Rio, Amaia Ibarraran, and Martin Simonson, eds. Beyond the Myth: New Perspectives on Western Texts.  The American Literary West Series.
London: Portal, 2011. ISBN: 978-84-938360-7-8.

Classical notions of the West and associated images, symbols, and values retain their appeal for an important number of Americans, as well as engaging the imagination of an international audience.

However, despite the resilience of the myth, it may be argued that an increasing number of artistic portraits of the American West debunk traditional mythology, rejecting at the same time extreme reductionism to simplistic binary oppositions, such as the one between myth and reality. Instead, the main emphasis is on the West as a complex, interrelated, unfinished, and plural space, consisting of multiple meanings and often intercultural experiences and identities. In this globalized age of trans-oceanic studies the international and hybrid properties of western American culture have become more visible than ever. Most of the essays in this book support this shift towards transnational frameworks, both challenging reductionist regional and national perspectives and vindicating the point of view of the outsider. Adopting transnational perspectives does not mean neglecting the importance of regional and local studies that testify to the multiple and overlapping cultures and literatures existing in the American West. The book embraces a diverse literary western landscape, aiming to mediate between the regional and the global in order to understand a literature that, after all, claims to be both exceptional and universal. This volume also extends the analysis of western iconography to other artistic manifestations than writing, adopting primarily a postwestern approach.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgements
  • Preface. Elegy and the Defiance of Elegy: Longing and Writing in the American West, by Gregory Martin
  • Introduction: Reconsidering Western Writing beyond the Regional Imaginary and its Mythic Borders, by David Rio
Part I: Continuity and Renewal
  • The Rural West as Frontier: A Myth for Modern America, by J. Dwight Hines David 
  • Guterson's The Other, the Doppelganger Tradition Visits the American North West, by Aitor Ibarrola 
  • That Boy Ain't Right: Jimmy Blevins, John Grady Cole, and Mythic Masculinity in All the Pretty Horses, by Maria O'Connell 
  • Western Images in Paul Auster's Work: from Moon Palace to Later Fiction, by Jesús Ángel González
Part II: Beyond Stereotypes
  • Affective Critical Regionalism in D.J. Waldie's Suburban West, by Neil Campbell 
  • Shoshone Mike and the Basques, by Monika Madinabeitia 
  • Revision of American Indian Stereotypes and Post-Indian Identity in Sherman Alexie's Flight, by Elisa Mateos 
  • The Pros and Cons of Writing Confessional Memoir in the Mormon Milieu, by Phyllis Barber
Part III: Cultural Transfers
  • Film and Chicano I/dentity in Tino Villanueva's Scene from the Movie GIANT, by Juan Ignacio Guijarro 
  • "Wagon Train to the Stars:" Star Trekkin' the U.S. Western Frontier, by Stefan Rabitsch  
  • From California to Jarama Valley: Woody Guthrie's Folk Banditry, by David Fenimore 
  • How Some of the West Was Lost in Translation: The Influence of Franco's Censorship on Spanish Westerns, by Carmen Camus
  • Notes on Contributors 
  •  Index

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