It’s well known that George Lucas used Joseph Campbell’s writings as the basis for Luke Skywalker’s heroic journey in Star Wars.
But to the people of Mythopoeic Society, Campbell is just a short paragraph in a long-running book of how myths inhabit our fiction.
The society will be getting together for the 40th Annual Mythpoeic Conference—aka MythCon—from July 17-20 at the University of California, Los Angeles. .
“”Mythopoeic” just means “myth making”. It was a term that J.R.R. Tolkien liked, especially in regards to his own fiction writing,” said Sarah Beach, the author of The Scribbler’s Guide to the Land of Myth and the conference chair for Mythcon.
” Since the primary focus of the Society is Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and their friends the Inklings, it was considered a useful name. But of course, our interests stretch beyond those core writers: we like to discuss all fantasy literature, from ancient myths to modern works.”
“We are nit-pickers at heart, and at MythCon, we give ourselves permission to pick away.”
Past papers and presentations and at MythCon include discussion of Harry Potter, and the graphic novel adaptation of Wagner’s Ring Cycle.
“I have at times described it as a cross between an academic conference and a very cozy book club,” said Beach. “You might find a dental technician who is an expert Elvish linguist. Last year, there was a passionate debate (although entirely civil, as the combatants are actually friends who have worked together) on whether or not Tolkien’s elves had free will or had fixed fates.”
While on-line registration is closed, Beach said memberships can be purchased at the door for the whole weekend or individual days.
“It’s a lot of fun. In addition to the very geeky papers – which do
actually constitute serious scholarship on the genre – there is a lot of
horse-play. One of our prime features is the “Not-Ready-For-Mythcon
Players” – which is a sketch performed on the Sunday night by a perennial
group of pranksters. The content usually plays upon the works of the
Author Guest of Honor or the theme of the conference. It’s the
combination of serious discussion and analysis with a playful love of the
stories that gives Mythcon its special atmosphere.”
Beach said that atmosphere informed the tone of her book.
“A casual, friendly tone supported by thorough research and analysis. It was also important to me that the voice of my book not be so analytic that it brought the creative impulse to a screeching halt. “
I can attest that this worked. My eldest daughter, sixteen, carried her book around for several days to better understand her reading and to develop ideas about her writing.
Now if I can just get her to give it back.