In this Book

summary

The many con men, gangsters, and drug lords portrayed in popular culture are examples of the dark side of the American dream. Viewers are fascinated by these twisted versions of heroic American archetypes, like the self-made man and the entrepreneur. Applying the critical skills he developed as a Shakespeare scholar, Paul A. Cantor finds new depth in familiar landmarks of popular culture. He invokes Shakespearean models to show that the concept of the tragic hero can help us understand why we are both repelled by and drawn to figures such as Vito and Michael Corleone or Walter White.

Beginning with Huckleberry Finn and ending with The Walking Dead, Cantor also uncovers the link between the American dream and frontier life. In imaginative variants of a Wild West setting, popular culture has served up disturbing -- and yet strangely compelling -- images of what happens when people move beyond the borders of law and order. Cantor demonstrates that, at its best, popular culture raises thoughtful questions about the validity and viability of the American dream, thus deepening our understanding of America itself.

Table of Contents

  1. Front Cover
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  1. Title Page, Copyright, Epigraph
  2. pp. i-vi
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. vii-viii
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  1. Preface
  2. pp. ix-x
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  1. Introduction
  2. pp. 1-16
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  1. Chapter 1. Aristocracy in America: Huckleberry Finn and the Democratic Art of Impost
  2. pp. 17-30
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  1. Chapter 2. The Talented Mr. Dukenfield: W. C. Fields and the American Dream
  2. pp. 31-47
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  1. Chapter 3. “I Believe in America”: The Godfather Films and the Immigrant’s Tragedy
  2. pp. 48-87
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  1. Chapter 4. The Macbeth of Meth: Breaking Bad and the Tragedy Of Walter Wh
  2. pp. 88-132
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  1. Chapter 5. The Apocalyptic Strain: In Popular Culture The American Nightmare Becomes The American Dream
  2. pp. 133-158
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  1. Notes
  2. pp. 159-194
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. 195-196
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 197-208
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Additional Information

ISBN
9780813177328
Related ISBN
9780813177304
MARC Record
OCLC
1085566650
Pages
224
Launched on MUSE
2019-02-18
Language
English
Open Access
No
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