The function of myth in social cultures is explored by Mary Barnard in her the Mythmakers in which she investigates the origins of ritual in folklore, history, and metaphor.
In addressing such a wide scope of material, she came to the conclusion that the origins of many mythical personas/deities related to a single familiar theme: intoxication (4). Her discoveries became offshoots of CG Jung's definition of mythology:
Myths are original revelations of the pre-conscious psyche, involuntary statements about unconscious happenings, and anything but allegories of physical processes (32).
Highly visual conceptions, myths involve superheroes/heroines in out-sized feats that integrate the essence of a culture. They have intrigued listeners and audiences for eons -- comics have
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simply provided them with a modern iconographic dimension. Graphic Novels may well be a route back to the beginnings of our species. Personification is enthralling and begs the question: have dramatizations (or comics) influenced an ongoing mythology as much as the mythology has influenced the miming? Ambience is very strong in mythmaking and recounting.
The colors, out-sized shapes, and uproars of nature depicted in Graphic Novels attract the eye, entice the smell, and burgeon the ears with new sounds of electronic wonder -- intoxication of a sort!
Harold Augenbaum reminds us that what is included in the literary canon changes every few generations, not only in the works selected by institutions such as schools and universities, but the genres. Until the late nineteenth century, the novel was not considered Literature. Many universities did not consider any American literature worthy of higher education until after the Second World War, yet now it is essential. The Graphic Novel may be reaching the beginning stages of inclusion. Text implies image and image implies text, independent yet dependent on one another. Like white space in the post-modern novel, in the Graphic Novel, the space between the panels contains narrative. The history and criticism of comics have yet to be written in any comprehensive form, but they are coming, evidenced by the panel discussion on the canon of comics conducted at New York University a few years back. With a comprehensive history, comics past, as well as its future, will change (Readingahead.com 2008).
Many educators believe that the comic book and Grapic Novels are experiencing a renaissance as they currently command bookstore aisles and Pulitzer Prize winners alike (Colorado.edu 2011).
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Certainly this writer agrees with Professor Randy Bass when he states that Art Spiegelman's Maus not only narrates the horrors of concentration camps located in Poland, but it also displays the enormous difficulties of second generation survivors to find a way to come to terms with the horrendous plight of their ancestors. Its graphical novel format plays an essential role in making the story come alive, as does the troubled relationship between Vladek and Art. Maus is not merely a narrative of the Holocaust; it is also a story of human suffering and struggle, not just after a staggering devastating experience like the concentration camps, but also afterwards, not just of one generation, but also of succeeding ones (Georgetown.edu. 2011).
Literary critics have embraced the notion of the performative as one that helps to characterize literary discourse. Theorists have long proclaimed that we must attend to what literary language does as much as to what it says. It brings to center stage a use of language previously considered marginal which helps us to conceive of literature as act or event (Culler 134). This bodes well for the Graphic Novel, an event that proffers full sensory inner intoxication for the futuristic viewer and offer, as well, insights and truths to be pondered.
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Aleixo, Paul, Buillon, Murry. Biological Psychology: an illustrated survival guide. West Sussex, England: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2008.
Augenbaum, Harold. The Graphic Novel and the Literary Canon. Electronic Liter-
Barnard, Mary. The Mythmakers. Athens, Ohio: The Ohio University Press, 1996.