NWU Professor’s Science Fiction Interest Results in Two Books
Nebraska Wesleyan University communication professor Dave Whitt can talk Harry Potter, Star Wars and Lord of the Rings with the best of them.
His passion for science fiction has resulted in the release of a new book, Millennial Mythmaking: Essays on the Power of Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature, Films and Games. It is his second book on the topic. His first book, Sith, Slayers, Stargates, and Cyborgs: Modern Mythology in the New Millenium was released in 2008. Both books have been co-authored with Hastings College professor John Perlich.
Their latest book explores how myths — from Homer’s Illiad to George Lucas’ Star Wars — tell the same basic story or “monomyth” of a hero’s journey as they face challenges at great odds.
Whitt and Perlich came up with the idea for their books after serving on a panel together at the 2004 National Communication Association convention. The panel discussed the influence of Matrix, Harry Potter, and Lord of the Rings, a subject that drew a great deal of audience interest. Whitt and Perlich decided to follow through by analyzing contemporary texts and looking into mythology.
Both Whitt and Perlich wrote one chapter, the introduction, and the conclusion. They did a call for chapters from authors who wrote related essays, creating a compilation of viewpoints and topics.
Whitt incorporates his experience as an author into his classroom. Students taking his mass media course learn about book publishing; students in his film classes study mythic themes. His liberal arts class for first year students examines comic books and monomyths.
Whitt has always been interested in science fiction and fantasy; even his doctoral dissertation explored cyborgs, analyzing how science and technology influence ideas of who we are and looking at how technology and humanity are merged together.
“Writing inspiration comes from the things I find interesting,” said Whitt.
The books will send both authors to Australia next summer where they have been invited to present their research. And another book is not out of the question, Whitt admits.
“For now, I hope the books inspire the casual reader to become more interested in science fiction, fantasy, and mythology,” he said.