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Stories of Old: The Imagined West and the Crisis of Historical Symbology in the 1970s
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Languages, Department of English.
1999 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

For all the criticism that has been leveled against cultural representations of the American West, ideas of the westward expansion and its significance have remained powerful impulses for the negotiation of history and identity. Such notions of the past, and the cultural symbology with which they can be expressed, are more or less available to writers and other cultural agents for employment in political, cultural, or literary discourse. Understood in this way, the imagined West, to use Richard White's term, has continued to supply material that affirms or contests political and ideological change. The rejection of the conventionally imagined past in the 1970s provided writers with an opportunity to re-formulate historical representation and to make sense of history anew. Thus the imagined West reinforced its paradoxical status in American culture as a symbolic resource that signifies both historical inertia and constant change.

This study investigates representations of the West as they appear in the literary discourse of the 1970s. In readings of four non-genre texts, Don DeLillo's Americana (1971), Robert Coover's The Public Burning (1977), Joan Didion's The White Album (1979), and Tom Wolfe's The Right Stuff (1979), this study situates the cultural symbology of the West in a historico-political, cultural, and literary context. The study shows how these four writers utilize preconceptions about the meaning of the past, at the same time as they reshape that past to fit their own literary and ideological strategies. They do so by incorporating into the texts elements of historical representation and their ideological constituents, or ideologemes. Taken together, these texts are seen to illustrate the trajectory of the imagined West during a time of critical negotiation of American history.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis , 1999. , p. 255
Series
Studia Anglistica Upsaliensia, ISSN 0562-2719 ; 106
Keyword [en]
English language
Keyword [sv]
Engelska
National Category
Specific Languages
Research subject
English
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-964ISBN: 91-554-4436-9 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-964DiVA, id: diva2:173301
Public defence
1999-05-28, Ihresalen, Språkvetenskapligt centrum, Villavägen 4, Uppsala, Uppsala, 10:15
Available from: 1999-05-07 Created: 1999-05-07 Last updated: 2018-01-13Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
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  • asciidoc
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