The ‘Culture Hero’ in Literary Anthropology: A Gynocentric Perspective on the Narrative Cosmology Constructed in Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Earthsea Cycle


Given the compass of literary anthropology, the formulaic predilection for a male ‘culture hero’, charging at or circumventing obstacles while being engaged in a quest of epic proportions, has long dominated the narrative-scape in fantasy novels traditionally penned by male authors such as J. R. R. Tolkien, George MacDonald, and C. S. Lewis amongst others. However, this ontological propensity for a preposterously masculinist narrative where the solitary male hero seemingly penetrates and ultimately achieves dominion over the anthropocene trope of the wilderness – i.e. a long-drawn action consummated in the orgasmic ‘climax’ effected in the narrative – has received much criticism by post-modern feminist scholars, notably for the regressive phallocentric approach that these texts propound. While till recently, fighting or slaying dragons either real or metaphoric, mapped in desolate lands and pegged in a far past or a far future, has often taken center stage in fantasy narratives, a novel approach to the very subject has been sparked by eminent writers and critics, such as the likes of Ursula Le Guin who for one deemed it necessary to redesign narrative structures to suit a new-fangled ethic of creative expression. As such, the current research paper seeks to explore Le Guin’s conceptualization of a culture hero encapsulated in the narrative cosmology of The Earthsea Cycle, viewed predominantly from a gynocentric perspective.

Author Information
Anupa Lewis, Manipal Institute of Communication, India

Paper Information
Conference: ACCS2020
Stream: Gender studies / Feminist Theory

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon