An examination of the roles of contemporary legends in literature

Stumpf, Chris-Anne (2006) An examination of the roles of contemporary legends in literature. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Contemporary legends are assiduously and simultaneously transmitted using every means possible; thus, it is fair to suggest that they meet a need or have some importance for the tellers and receivers. However, although the existence of contemporary legends within larger pieces of fiction is often documented, what is missing in the critical study of these texts is a sustained examination of the role and effect of the use of the contemporary legend within the larger text. This is a tremendous oversight; the strength of the contemporary legend is such that the inclusion of or the allusion to a contemporary legend within a larger piece of fiction functions in number of ways: 1) it acts as a mirror in the text, in that the self-contained story that is the contemporary legend mirrors the larger story that is the fiction; 2) the contemporary legend provides a window into the text, allowing the reader to make a mental leap or connection between the underlying theme(s) of the contemporary legend and the underlying theme(s) of the larger text and/or to make a connection with the characters or the setting of the text; 3) for texts that were written in a time before the reader's contemporary time, the contemporary legend provides a window into the concerns of the cultural time of the text's creation; 4) the contemporary legend upholds or undermines their society's hegemony as they invite the expression of diverse points of view. This is achieved, in part, through the message or moral of the contemporary legend; 5) contemporary legends transmit stories whose message or moral upon reflection-seems like common or good sense. The common sense message either reinforces accepted behaviour, thinking and morality or, alternatively, when the message of the contemporary legend is discussed or debated, it supplies an alternative means of disruption. This disruption occurs when what seems like common sense or the status quo is challenged. -- Examination of the roles contemporary legends play when they exist within larger pieces of fiction is, thus, important for what contemporary legends contribute to and/or reveal about the text itself and the cultural context of the text's creation. Thus, through the study of contemporary legends in specific texts, this study examines the structure, forms, and roles of the contemporary legend within literature.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
Item ID: 11488
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (leaves 259-273).
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > English Language and Literature
Date: 2006
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Legends; Urban folklore.

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