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Artificial Mythologies

A Guide to Cultural Invention

1996
Author:

Craig J. Saper
Foreword by Laura Kipnis

Artificial Mythologies

Proposes a new approach to considering cultural problems.

In this exhilarating guide, Craig J. Saper takes us on an eye-opening tour of the process of cultural invention-willfully entertaining foolish, absurd, even fake, solutions as a way of reaching new perspectives on cultural problems. Saper deploys this method to reveal unsuspected connections among major cultural issues, such as urban decay, the dangers of television’s power, family values, and conservative criticism of higher education.

Not only is Saper inventing a theory, but he is creating a method (a world), such that in reading his work one discovers possibility as brutally fresh and near pure potential. I am on the edge of my seat everytime I hear Saper speak-I wanted to fall off reading this book.

Other Voices

Cultural critics teach us that myths are artificial. Cultural innovators use the artificial to make something new. In this exhilarating guide, Craig J. Saper takes us on an eye-opening tour of the process of cultural invention-willfully entertaining foolish, absurd, even fake, solutions as a way of reaching new perspectives on cultural problems. Saper deploys this method to reveal unsuspected connections among major cultural issues, such as urban decay, the dangers of television’s power, family values, and conservative criticism of higher education.

The model Saper uses builds on the later works of the revered French cultural critic Roland Barthes. These works, Saper argues, suggest poignant, playful, and productive ways of engaging dominant methodologies and mythologies. Artificial Mythologies shows us how, by allowing the artificial-our received ideas, common responses, and cultural mythologies-full play, we can arrive at provocative new solutions. The book demonstrates that the very conceptions of media and sociocultural issues that stymie innovation can be made to serve the cause of invention.

Craig J. Saper is assistant professor in the Department of English at the University of Pennsylvania.

Artificial Mythologies

Craig J. Saper is associate professor of multimedia at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and is the author of Networked Art (Minnesota, 2001).

Artificial Mythologies

Not only is Saper inventing a theory, but he is creating a method (a world), such that in reading his work one discovers possibility as brutally fresh and near pure potential. I am on the edge of my seat everytime I hear Saper speak-I wanted to fall off reading this book.

Other Voices

Saper’s project is timely, his audacity commendable, his sense of humor invigorating, and even if the sheer scope of his project is daunting, it is nonetheless worthy of serious critical attention.

College Literature

Craig Saper provides one with the means to transform what, for an outsider, may seem almost incomprehensible in modern debates and issues, into a pleasurable and interesting search for clues and new ways of thinking and writing. Be it when he deals with TV shows, education, film theory or Heidegger and the Amish, Saper always manages to bring to the fore what is important from a social or political point of view.

Réda Bensmaïa, Brown University