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Alissa Burger - From The Wizard of Oz to Wicked Trajectory of American Myth (copyrighted book, review only)

Cover of Alissa Burger's Book From The Wizard of Oz to Wicked Trajectory of American Myth
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Alissa Burger is an assistant professor of English and Humanities at SUNY Delhi, where she teaches courses in literature, composition, and gender studies, including gothic literature and a course on the works of Stephen King. Her research interests include representations of magic and performative gender identity, classic and contemporary horror, and the role of the musical in contemporary American popular culture.
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Category 1:  Religion and Mythology
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Author:      Alissa Burger
Format:      eBook
The Wizard of Oz story has been omnipresent in American popular culture since the first publication of L. Frank Baum's children's book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz at the dawn of the twentieth century. Ever since, filmmakers, authors, and theatre producers have continued to return to Oz over and over again. However, while literally hundreds of adaptations of the Wizard of Oz story abound, a handful of transformations are particularly significant in exploring discourses of American myth and culture: L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900) MGM's classic film The Wizard of Oz (1939) Sidney Lumet's film The Wiz (1978) Gregory Maguire's novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (1995) and Stephen Schwartz and Winnie Holzman's Broadway musical Wicked (2003).

This project critiques theories of fixed or prescriptive American myth, instead developing a theory of American myth as active, performative and even, at times, participatory, achieved through discussion of the fluidity of text and performance, built on Diana Taylor's theory of the archive and the repertoire. By approaching text and performance as fluid rather than fixed, this dissertation facilitates an interdisciplinary consideration of these works, bringing children's literature, film, popular fiction, theatre, and music together in a theoretically multifaceted approach to the Wizard of Oz narrative, its many transformations, and its lasting significance within American culture. In the process of addressing these myths, this dissertation explores themes consistent within these five versions of the Wizard of Oz narrative, looking at the shifting significance and representations of gender, race, home, and magic in these works. These themes have been central to establishing the national identity of the citizen throughout American history as such, their popular representations tend to reflect the values espoused by the surrounding culture at the time of creation. Therefore, a close examination of the recurring themes in these five versions of the Wizard of Oz story provides significant insight into the negotiation of these issues, their representations, and their corresponding moments in American culture.

Alissa Burger is an assistant professor of English and Humanities at SUNY Delhi, where she teaches courses in literature, composition, and gender studies, including gothic literature and a course on the works of Stephen King. Her research interests include representations of magic and performative gender identity, classic and contemporary horror, and the role of the musical in contemporary American popular culture.