In its more than three decades of existence, the discipline of American studies has been reliably unreliable, its boundaries and assumptions forever shifting as it continuously repositions itself to better address the changing character of American life, literature, and culture. American Mythologies is a challenging new look at the current reinvention of American studies, a reinvention that has questioned the whole notion of what "American"—let alone "American studies"—means.
Essays in the collection range widely in considering these questions, from the effect of Muhammad Ali on Norman Mailer's writings about boxing to the interactions of myth and memory in the fictions of Jayne Anne Phillips to the conflicted portrayal of the American West in Cormac McCarthy's novels. Four essays in the collection focus on Native American authors, including Leslie Marmon Silko and Gerald Vizenor, while another considers Louise Erdrich's novels in the context of Ojibwa myth.
By bringing together perspectives on American studies from both Europe and America, American Mythologies provides a clear picture of the current state of the discipline while pointing out fruitful directions for its future.