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Communities of the Heart: The Rhetoric of Myth in the Fiction of Ursula K Le Guin

Volume: 25
Copyright Date: 2001
Edition: 1
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    Communities of the Heart
    Book Description:

    This book explores the use of imaginative literature as persuasion, focusing on the science fiction of Ursula Le Guin and her rhetorical use of myth. The author concludes that Le Guin (like Emerson, Peirce, Thoreau, Whitman, and Dewey) is a romantic/pragmatic rhetorician. In that sense, she is arguing for what Vico argued for in the eighteenth century: that knowledge should be seen and studied as an integrated whole, and that Cartesian thinking is only part of how humans make meaning.

    eISBN: 978-1-78138-050-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xii)
    Warren G. Rochelle
  5. CHAPTER ONE The Making and Remaking of Meaning: Language, Story and Myth
    (pp. 1-32)

    Truth changes its shape and colour in the manner in which it is delivered, in the way it is presented, and by the form of its narrative. Truth ultimately becomes a question of language, an issue of story. The teller of the story, the speaker and his or her audience affect the truth of the story and how this truth is perceived and understood. As Ursula K. Le Guin recognizes, relating the truth is not a simple matter of the solidity or coherency of the facts that it comprises. The language used, the style of language, its form and the...

  6. CHAPTER TWO The Monomyth Reimagined
    (pp. 33-64)

    True myth, according to Le Guin, ‘arises only in the process of connecting the conscious and the unconscious realms’. From this ‘unconscious realm’, myth releases ‘the common darkness’, familiar archetypal images: ‘dragons, heroes, quests; objects of power, voyages at night and under sea’.¹ And we tell myths, stories, she says, ‘for the purpose of gaining understanding’ of what it means to be fully human.² But human experience, while personally a constant, as almost every human experiences birth, childhood, adolescence, maturity and death, is, for the species, in flux. We travel by air where we once walked or rode on horseback....

  7. CHAPTER THREE Which Way to Eden?
    (pp. 65-108)

    According to Janice Antczak, inScience Fiction: The Mythos of a New Romance,science fiction ‘gives clear expression to the interconnectedness of myth and literature’ in that ‘the conventions of the science fiction story express the mythic archetypes of the quest in the idiom of the space age’. Antczak is arguing that, as a genre, science fiction is displaying ‘the elements of the monomyth of the hero and the quest’.¹ But in equating the entire genre with the monomyth, it does seem Antczak paints with a rather broad brush. As seen in Chapter Two, there are other myths at work...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR American Romantic/Pragmatic Rhetoric
    (pp. 109-144)

    These communities of the heart, to which Le Guin has been leading us through her rhetorical use of myth, are not newly discovered territories. As Robert Coles points out, both inThe Call of Storiesand in his 6 April 1995 address at UNC Greensboro, the potential for such communities already exists and can begin in a classroom. Such classrooms, Coles argues, would have a teacher who ‘is willing to reach out to students in a moral way, that mixes head and heart’. Such classrooms, he insists, will have rigorous intellectual standards and acknowledge the value of the cognitive and...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE Communities of the Heart
    (pp. 145-177)

    To place Le Guin’s rhetorical use of myth in its broader context of American romantic/pragmatic rhetoric, I will first look at her fiction, particularly her science fiction, as a whole. As do most authors, Le Guin uses recurrent metaphors, symbols and mythic patterns, which, when considered as inherent in her entire opus, become rhetorical. Next, I am going to focus on selected recent stories to show Le Guin’s rhetoric as progressive and evolutionary, much as her understanding of feminism is. In these more recent stories I feel the reader can see more clearly where Le Guin is now as an...

  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 178-188)
  11. Index of Works by Ursula K. Le Guin
    (pp. 189-189)
  12. General Index
    (pp. 190-195)