Cover image for Popular stories and promised lands : fan cultures and symbolic pilgrimages
Popular stories and promised lands : fan cultures and symbolic pilgrimages
Aden, Roger C. (Roger Craig), 1962-
Publication Information:
Tuscaloosa : University of Alabama Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
viii, 290 pages ; 24 cm.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E169.12 .A224 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Popular Stories and Promised Lands enters a conversation about who we are, where we've been, and where we might be going by suggesting that possible answers to those questions can be found in the popular stories we encounter at the movies, on television, in popular magazines, and even on the funny pages.

As countless scholars and popular writers have noted, those of us living in the United States find ourselves at a cultural crossroads. We are increasingly aware that the stories that once permeated life in these United States, stories that tell us that social and economic progress comes from working hard, that everyone has an equal opportunity to experience
such progress, do not resonate to the degree they once did. Because many Americans have traditionally defined themselves, others, and their unique sense of place through these stories, we find ourselves displaced socially, economically, politically, and/or culturally.

So, Roger Aden says, we go to places of our own making. Fans of the television series The X-Files return to the Funhouse each week for a dose of frightening fun. Fans of the weekly magazine Sports Illustrated play in the American Elysian Fields where democratic efforts at balancing work and play are valued. Fans of the movie Field of Dreams work as altruistic producers in an alternative garden spot.

Grounded in the author's own experiences and reinforced by the voices of approximately two hundred additional fans of the four popular stories, this book offers a compelling case for understanding the alleged wasteland of popular culture as a fertile site of individually and communally created sacred places.

Author Notes

Roger C. Aden is Associate Professor in the School of Interpersonal Communication at Ohio University

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Introduction: I'm a Big Fan: Popular Stories, Habitus, and Places That Matterp. 1
Part 1 Theoretical Development
1. The Search for Promised Lands: Dominant Visions of Sacred Places in U.S. Culturep. 17
2. The Foundations of Symbolic Pilgrimage: Theoretical Conversations About Places That Matterp. 52
3. Symbolic Pilgrimages: Experiencing Popular Stories as Purposeful, Imaginary-Yet-Real Journeysp. 79
Part 2 Illustrations
4. Exiled in Cubeville, Striving for Nerdvana: Dilbert as a Critique of Phony Meritocracyp. 115
5. Transforming the Panopticon Into the Funhouse: Negotiating Disorientation in The X-Filesp. 149
6. Playing in a Perfect Place: Sports Illustrated and an American Elysian Fieldp. 186
7. Integrating Self and Community as a Means of Finding Homes: The Shift from Consumerism to Altruistic Producerism in Field of Dreamsp. 219
Conclusion: The Return Homep. 250
Postscriptp. 260
Referencesp. 263
Indexp. 285