The Universe of Oz: Essays on Baum's Series and Its Progeny by Kevin K. Durand and Mary K. Leigh is the other book I received as a review copy from McFarland last week. Yesterday's post on Oz in Perspective by Richard Tuerk had the most reader comments of any post in weeks here on SurLaLune, so there are some Oz fans out there reading, even during the slower summer months. I'm showing two covers on this one because it is also available as an ebook for 42% less than the paper version, see The Universe of Oz: Essays on Baum's Series and Its Progeny.
Description from the publisher:
The Wizard of Oz has captured the imagination of the public since publication of L. Frank Baum’s first book of the series in 1900. Oz has shaped the way we read children’s literature, view motion pictures and experience musicals. Oz has captured the scholarly imagination as well. The seventeen essays in this book address numerous questions of the boundaries between literature, film, and stage--and these have become essential to Oz scholarship. Together the essays explore the ways in which Oz tells us much about ourselves, our society, and our journeys.
About the Author
Kevin K. Durand is Math and Physics Professor at the LISA Academy College Preparatory School in Little Rock, Arkansas. He has published broadly in philosophy, religion, and ethics. Mary K. Leigh is a Doctoral Academy Fellow at the University of Arkansas.
Table of Contents:
Preface; or, Scholars Walk the Yellow Brick Road 1Unlike yesterday's title, this book includes the movies and other materials outside the Baum canon much more extensively for comparisons and discussion.
PART ONE: OZ AND LITERARY CRITICISM
1. The Emerald Canon: Where the Yellow Brick Road Forks
(Kevin K. Durand) 11
2. Dorothy and Cinderella: The Case of the Missing Prince and the Despair of the Fairy Tale
(Agnes B. Curry and Josef Velazquez) 24
3. Psychospiritual Wizdom: Dorothy’s Monomyth in The Wizard of Oz
( Jené Gutierrez) 54
4. “Come out, come out, wherever you are”: How Tina Landau’s 1969 Stages a Queer Reading of The Wizard of Oz
(Ronald Zank) 61
5. “Something between higgledy-piggledy and the eternal sphere”: Queering Age/Sex in Shelley Jackson’s Patchwork Girl
(Emily A. Mattingly) 77
6. No Place Like the O.Z.: Heroes and Hybridity in Sci-Fi’s Tin Man
(Kristin Noone) 94
7. The Wizard of Oz as a Modernist Work
(Charity Gibson) 107
PART TWO: OZ AND PHILOSOPHY
8. Ask the Clock of the Time Dragon: Oz in the Past and the Future
(Randall Auxier) 121
9. Down the Yellow Brick Road: Good and Evil, Freewill, and Generosity in The Wizard of Oz
(Gail Linsenbard) 136
10. The “Wonderful” Wizard of Oz and Other Lies: A Study of Inauthenticity in Wicked: A New Musical
(Mary K. Leigh) 147
11. Memories Cloaked in Magic: Memory and Identity in Tin Man
(Anne Collins Smith) 158
12. The Wicked Wizard of Oz
(Kevin K. Durand) 172
13. A Feminist Stroll Down the Yellow Brick Road: Dorothy’s Heroine’s Adventure
(Paula Kent) 179
PART THREE: OZ AND SOCIAL CRITIQUE
14. The Wiz: American Culture at Its Best
(Rhonda Williams) 191
15. The Wiz as the Seventies’ Version of The Wizard of Oz: An Analysis
(Claudia A. Beach) 200
16. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: Religious Populism and Spiritual Capitalism
(Kevin Tanner) 204
17. The Ethics and Epistemology of Emancipation in Oz
( Jason M. Bell and Jessica Bell) 225
About the Contributors 247
If you perused the table of contents and know me a little, you can guess I jumped right to "Dorothy and Cinderella: The Case of the Missing Prince and the Despair of the Fairy Tale" by Agnes B. Curry and Josef Velazquez, which no surprise, posits Wizard of Oz as an American fairy tale. It's a rather short article for its scope of two parts, first comparing Wizard to Cinderella and then discussing it along with other modern "fairy tales" including Star Wars, A Wrinkle in Time, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Spiderman and some others. The Disney versions of Mulan and Little Mermaid are included. The length is too short to more than briefly touch on any of those other titles with any real depth, but it is intriguing and fosters more food for thought. And, yes, I still counterargue as always that Wizard of Oz and those above titles are fantasy novels/movies borrowing from folklore, not traditional fairy tales in the folkloric sense. The Cinderella comparison draws from both the Grimm and Perrault versions as well as some of Bettelheim's interpretation of the tale. Overall the essay makes some interesting points, but I don't find much need to compare Cinderella and Wizard of Oz. I find the comparisons to later fantasy constructions more interesting, such as the creation of a family out of a group of friends.
There's only one specific essay on the 21st century's Oz resurrection: Wicked by Gregory Maguire--"The 'Wonderful' Wizard of Oz and Other Lies: A Study of Inauthenticity in Wicked: A New Musical" by Mary K. Leigh. Discussions of both the book and the musical also appear in two essays by Durand, "The Emerald Canon: Where the Yellow Brick Road Forks" and "The Wicked Wizard of Oz." I know that is the work of most interest to current students due to popular culture as well as the scope for comparison and analysis. Leigh's essay is a fine resource for some discussion of the works.
Overall, the collection of essays is broad in topics and approaches. If the themes of the titles are of interest, the book is of merit for you. I particularly enjoyed the essays on The Wiz because it is so deliciously 70s and I am a child of that era.