Oleksandr Pronkevich

What Makes Don Quixote an American Hero?

Oleksandr Pronkevich


The “Quixotic myth”, together with other cultural myths (Don Juan, Hamlet, Faust, and many others), becomes an integral part of the collective unconscious, which determines the identification processes of ideological, artistic, social, and of course, national communities. Each national culture transforms the archetypal nature of the quixotic myth by inscribing it in the paradigms of its mythology and civic religion. Philosophers, journalists, artists, writers are deeply engaged in converting Don Quixote into identification symbol of cultural and national symbol by loading it with new meanings, which can be absent in the primary source (Don Quixote as a novel). They create “quixotic discourses” in their own national cultures and use arts and mass media to disseminate specific interpretations of the quixotic myth, which are included into global narratives of their nations.

In the presentation I will focus on the quixotic myth in the American popular culture. I chose this subject because in the age of modernity and postmodernity the crucial part in establishing hegemonic readings of quixotic myth belongs to visual arts, kitsch, advertisements, and especially to popular cinema genres. Cultural industry as a whole reproduces the visual icons of quixotic behavior, which very quickly become popular in wide masses of spectators. Thus, Don Quixote has turned into one of the most popular literary characters in the world. The Knight of the Sad Countenance has a long history in every national mass culture, and the USA is no exception.

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Key words:   quixotic myth, cultural industry, mass culture, American identity

Name: Oleksandr Pronkevich

Academic title: Professor

Country:  Ukraine

University:  Petro Mohyla Black Sea State University


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