American cultural myths essay

The American Dream as an Act of the Imagination 1. The Power of Myth 2.

American cultural myths essay

Academic experts on myth debate heatedly about what a myth is and how it functions in human life. In fact, with so many conflicting meanings and so much debate, some scholars have declared the word meaningless and abandoned it altogether.

But I have decided to write about myth because no other single word captures this absolutely essential aspect of our society, or any society.


As I understand the term and use it here, a myth has several basic qualities. First, it is a a story, told either explicitly or implicitly. Second, when a myth works or is alive — that is, when some group of people accept it as valid and meaningful — it provokes a powerful response from those people because it relies on vivid, evocative symbols to tell the tale.

When words or images function as symbols they affect us both intellectually and emotionally, both consciously and unconsciously.

American cultural myths essay

They communicate several different, often divergent, sometimes even contradictory, meanings simultaneously. When many symbols are woven together in a myth they evoke even stronger response. Third, a living myth expresses something fundamental about the worldview, values, and lifestyle of the people who accept it.

A myth communicates what they assume to be true about: And because the world is the way it is, living as we do or ought to is uniquely satisfying and fulfilling. Fourth, a living myth gives the people who accept it a way to cope with the difficulties of life.

It gives an impression of human life and the world as relatively coherent, harmonious, sensible, and therefore meaningful, so that life seems worth living. Sometimes a myth denies that there is any conflict or contradiction in the world.


Sometimes it accepts but explains conflicts, contradictions, and the suffering they cause. Sometimes it offers no explanation at all but gives a powerful sense that life is good and worthwhile despite the conflicts, the contradictions, and the suffering.

The satisfaction comes in part from the conviction that, while life and the world are always changing, the myth is a story that seems never to change.

It is always available to be retold, reenacted, relived.

EVERYTHING has been said about the United States.

So the disturbing flux of the real is held in check by the bulwark of permanence — a sort of timeless present — enshrined in the myth.

Some myths are total fictions. Though they can have powerful influence on a society, they can also be debunked by fact, which places some limit at least in theory on their influence. The myths that affect us most, in theory and usually in fact, are those that blend empirical truth with fiction.

The more truth they contain, the more convincing they are, the harder they are to refute, and therefore the more influence they have.

American cultural myths essay

However empirical truth or falsehood is not the most crucial question when it comes to myth. As the definition above indicates, a myth communicates some very real truths to the people who accept it as a living myth.

This is the sense in which most historians of religion have come to use the term.

A cultural myth is a traditional story that has a meaning attached to it. These myths have an effect in they way people lead their lives and even how they interact with each other. It is notable that myths have a role to play be it personally, or to the wider society. In as much as one may believe. Essay on the Myths of the African American Woman in Song of Solomon - Defying the Myths of the African American Woman in Song of Solomon Throughout slavery, myths were created that tainted the image of the African American woman. The first reason to study American myths — and for many people the most important reason — is simply to understand America better, to gain deeper insight into what people in the United States are doing and come closer to plausible interpretations of why they are doing it.

They say that myth has its own truth, a different kind of truth than science offers. The people who tell a myth do not judge it by whether it can be proven factually true, either. Rather, the myth is a sort of lens through which they see the world.

Cultural Myths Essays

It tells them what they can accept as factually true and what they must consider false.Stephanie Coontz’s “The Way We Wish We Were”, David Brooks’ “One Nation Slightly Divisible” and Margaret Atwood’s “A Letter to America” are all essays about different American cultural myths. Americans and Their Myths and so on–which we have been told are the keys to the American character is presented to us in Europe, we experience a certain intellectual satisfaction and think.

Essay on the Myths of the African American Woman in Song of Solomon - Defying the Myths of the African American Woman in Song of Solomon Throughout slavery, myths were created that tainted the image of the African American woman.

Baseball Literature: American Cultural Myths essays How does baseball, and especially its literature, propagate and foster American cultural myths? "If you build it, they will come." "Say it ain't so, Joe." These familiar phrases, from the films "Field of Dreams&q. Cultural Myths Essays: Over , Cultural Myths Essays, Cultural Myths Term Papers, Cultural Myths Research Paper, Book Reports.

ESSAYS, term and research papers available for UNLIMITED access. American culture is a great culture that people with different ideals should open their minds too. American culture is a culture that has molded within a couple of centuries and has developed more within the years.


Americans and Their Myths | The Nation