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A Folklore Casebook
Classicist Lowell Edmunds and folklorist Alan Dundes both note that “the Oedipus tale is not likely to ever fade from view in Western civilization, [as] the tale continues to pack a critical family drama into a timeless form.” Looking beyond the story related in Sophocles’ drama—the ancient Theban myth of the son who unknowingly kills his father and marries his mother—Oedipus: A Folklore Casebook examines variations of the tale from Africa and South America to Eastern Europe and the Pacific. Taking sociological, psychological, anthropological, and structuralist perspectives, the nineteen essays reveal the complexities and multiple meanings of this centuries-old tale.
In addition to the well-known interpretations of the Oedipus myth by Sigmund Freud and James Frazer, this casebook includes insightful selections by an international group of scholars. Essays on a Serbian Oedipus legend by Friedrich Krauss and on a Gypsy version by Mirella Karpati, for example, stress the psychological stages of atonement after the Oedipus figure learns the truth about his actions. Anthropologist Melford E. Spiro investigates the myth’s appearance in Burma and the significance of the mother’s identification with the dragon (the sphinx figure). Vladimir Propp’s essay, translated into English for the first time, and Lowell Edmunds’s theoretical review discuss the relation of the Oedipus story to the larger study of folklore. The result is a comprehensive and fascinating casebook for students of folklore, classical mythology, anthropology, and sociology.
Oedipus Rex is the greatest of the Greek tragedies, a profound meditation on the human condition. The story of the mythological king, who is doomed to kill his father and marry his mother, has resonated in world culture for almost 2,500 years. But Sophocles’ drama as originally performed was much more than a great story—it was a superb poetic script and exciting theatrical experience. The actors spoke in pulsing rhythms with hypnotic forward momentum, making it hard for audiences to look away. Interspersed among the verbal rants and duels were energetic songs performed by the chorus.
Gender, Race, and Identity in Colombia
Here is a detailed investigation of the concept of beauty in Colombia—its cultural and political origins, its expression through fashion and pageants, and its effect on the people of a country plagued by violence, inequality, and corruption.
Debt, Property, and Personhood in Early Modern England
The late sixteenth-century penal debt bond, which allowed an unsatisfied creditor to seize the body of his debtor, set in motion a series of precedents that would shape the legal, philosophical, and moral issue of property-in-person in England and America for centuries. Focusing on this historical juncture at which debt litigation was not merely an aspect of society but seemed to engulf it completely, Of Bondage examines a culture that understood money and the body of the borrower as comparable forms of property that impinged on one another at the moment of default.
Amanda Bailey shows that the early modern theater, itself dependent on debt bonds, was well positioned to stage the complex ethical issues raised by a system of forfeiture that registered as a bodily event. While plays about debt like The Merchant of Venice and The Custom of the Country did not use the language of political philosophy, they were artistically and financially invested in exploring freedom as a function of possession. By revealing dramatic literature's heretofore unacknowledged contribution to the developing narrative of possessed persons, Amanda Bailey not only deepens our understanding of creditor-debtor relations in the period but also sheds new light on the conceptual conditions for the institutions of indentured servitude and African slavery. Of Bondage is vital not only for students and scholars of English literature but also for those interested in British and colonial legal history, the history of human rights, and the sociology of economics.
Ancient human groups in the Eastern Woodlands of North America were long viewed as homogeneous and stable hunter-gatherers, changing little until the late prehistoric period when Mesoamerican influences were thought to have stimulated important economic and social developments. The authors in this volume offer new, contrary evidence to dispute this earlier assumption, and their studies demonstrate the vigor and complexity of prehistoric peoples in the North American Midwest and Midsouth. These peoples gathered at favored places along midcontinental streams to harvest mussels and other wild foods and to inter their dead in the shell mounds that had resulted from their riverside activities. They created a highly successful, pre-maize agricultural system beginning more than 4,000 years ago, established far-flung trade networks, and explored and mined the world's longest cave—the Mammoth Cave System in Kentucky.
Kenneth C. Carstens, Cheryl Ann Munson, Guy Prentice, Kenneth B. Tankersley, Philip J. DiBlasi, Mary C. Kennedy, Jan Marie Hemberger, Gail E. Wagner, Christine K. Hensley, Valerie A. Haskins, Nicholas P. Herrmann, Mary Lucas Powell, Cheryl Claassen, David H. Dye, and Patty Jo Watson
Death and Humor in Folkore and Popular Culture
Laughter, contemporary theory suggests, is often aggressive in some manner and may be prompted by a sudden perception of incongruity combined with memories of past emotional experience. Given this importance of the past to our recognition of the comic, it follows that some "traditions" dispose us to ludic responses. The studies in Of Corpse: Death and Humor in Folklore and Popular Culture examine specific interactions of text (jokes, poetry, epitaphs, iconography, film drama) and social context (wakes, festivals, disasters) that shape and generate laughter. Uniquely, however, the essays here peruse a remarkable paradox---the convergence of death and humor.
The Existential Foundations of Governance
Death is the opposite not of life, but of power. And as such, Mohammed Bamyeh argues in this original work, death has had a great and largely unexplored impact on the thinking of governance throughout history, right down to our day. In Of Death and Dominion Bamyeh pursues the idea that a deep concern with death is, in fact, the basis of the ideological foundations of all political systems.
A History of the Regular Army in the Civil War
Paula Deitz has delighted readers for more than thirty years with her vivid descriptions of both famous and hidden landscapes. Her writings allow readers to share in the experience of her extensive travels, from the waterways of Britain's Castle Howard to the Japanese gardens of Kyoto, and home again to New York City's Central Park. Collected for the first time, the essays in Of Gardens record her great adventure of continual discovery, not only of the artful beauty of individual gardens but also of the intellectual and historical threads that weave them into patterns of civilization, from the modest garden for family subsistence to major urban developments. Deitz's essays describe how people, over many centuries and in many lands, have expressed their originality by devoting themselves to cultivation and conservation.
During a visit to the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden in Seal Harbor, Maine, Deitz first came to appreciate the notion that landscape architecture can be as intricately conceived as any major structure and is, indeed, the means by which we redeem the natural environment through design. Years later, as she wandered through the gardens of Versailles, she realized that because gardens give structure without confinement, they encourage a liberation of movement and thought. In Of Gardens, we follow Deitz down paths of revelation, viewing "A Bouquet of British Parks: Liverpool, Edinburgh, and London"; the parks and promenades of Jerusalem; the Moonlight Garden of the Taj Mahal; a Tuscan-style villa in southern California; and the rooftop garden at Tokyo's Mori Center, among many other sites.
Deitz covers individual landscape architects and designers, including André Le Nôtre, Frederick Law Olmsted, Beatrix Farrand, Russell Page, and Michael Van Valkenburgh. She then features an array of parks, public places, and gardens before turning her attention to the burgeoning business of flower shows. The volume concludes with a memorable poetic epilogue entitled "A Winter Garden of Yellow."
Egypt, Israel, and the Rise of Monotheism
For thousands of years, our world has been shaped by biblical monotheism. But its hallmark—a distinction between one true God and many false gods—was once a new and radical idea. Of God and Gods explores the revolutionary newness of biblical theology against a background of the polytheism that was once so commonplace.
Jan Assmann, one of the most distinguished scholars of ancient Egypt working today, traces the concept of a true religion back to its earliest beginnings in Egypt and describes how this new idea took shape in the context of the older polytheistic world that it rejected. He offers readers a deepened understanding of Egyptian polytheism and elaborates on his concept of the “Mosaic distinction,” which conceives an exclusive and emphatic Truth that sets religion apart from beliefs shunned as superstition, paganism, or heresy.
Without a theory of polytheism, Assmann contends, any adequate understanding of monotheism is impossible.
Best Books for General Audiences, selected by the American Association of School Librarians, and Best Books for Special Interests, selected by the Public Library Association