Books

It has been a busy few years and I’ve published a few new books. Here’s some information:

Based on my Ph.D. work at Swansea University in Great Britain, my new monograph from Routledge has just been released. It is:

Exploring the Next Frontier: Vietnam, NASA, Star Trek and Utopia in 1960s and 70s Myth and History.

  • The 1960s and early 70s saw the evolution of Frontier Myths even as scholars were renouncing the interpretive value of myths themselves. Works like Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War exemplified that rejection using his experiences during the Vietnam War to illustrate the problematic consequences of simple mythic idealism. Simultaneously, Americans were playing with expanded and revised versions of familiar Frontier Myths, though in a contemporary context, through NASA’s lunar missions, Star Trek, and Gerard K. O’Neill’s High Frontier.This book examines the reasons behind the exclusion of Frontier Myths to the periphery of scholarly discourse, and endeavors to build a new model for understanding their enduring significance. This model connects NASA’s failed attempts to recycle earlier myths, wholesale, to Star Trek’s revision of those myths and rejection of the idea of a frontier paradise, to O’Neill’s desire to realize such a paradise in Earth’s orbit. This new synthesis defies the negative connotations of Frontier Myths during the 1960s and 70s and attempts to resuscitate them for relevance in the modern academic context.

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The Play Versus Story Divide in Digital Game Studies: Critical Essays, Ed. Matthew Wilhelm Kapell.

  • Since the emergence of digital game studies, a number of debates have engaged scholars. The debate between ludic (play) and narrative (story) paradigms remains the one that famously “never happened.”This collection of new essays critically frames that debate and urges game scholars to consider it central to the field. The essayists examine various digital games, assessing the applicability of play-versus-narrative approaches or considering the failure of each. The essays reflect the broader history while applying notions of play and story to recent games in an attempt to propel serious analysis.Play Cover.jpg

 

  • The Fantastic Made Visible: Essays on the Adaptation of Science Fiction and Fantasy from Page to Screen, Eds. Matthew Wilhelm Kapell and Ace G. Pilkington.
  • Fantasy and science fiction began in print, and from the first films to the latest blockbusters, print stories have provided the inspirations, the ideas, and in some cases the detailed blueprints. Adaption Studies has long been an area of intense debate in literature and film studies, but no single work has ever approached fantasy and science fiction texts as unique and important areas of inquiry by themselves. The Fantastic Made Visible with 16 fresh essays is the first book to do exactly that. From the earliest adaptations of Jules Verne, Robert A. Heinlein, and Shakespeare to recent films based on The Hobbit, Planet of the Apes, and The Hunger Games, this book offers a wide range of critical approaches and films from around the world.

978-0-7864-9619-8

Playing with the Past: Digital Games and the Simulation of History. (23 chapter comprehensive reader.) Eds. Matthew Wilhelm Kapell and Andrew B.R. Elliott.

  • A major edited volume set to explore the representation of historiographical theory within popular digital games. From Sid Meier’s Civilization to Age of Empires, the ways in which players engage with, and thus understand, “history” is to be explored in a way useful for university class adoption, historians, and scholars of media and popular culture. A page specific to the book can be found here with more detail. Here’s  the cover, because it’s pretty :

Playing with the Past

And coming in 2016 is my long-worked-on monograph on frontier ideology and mythology in the history of the 1960s and 1970s. It is:

Exploring the Next Frontier: Vietnam, NASA, Star Trek and Utopia in 1960s and 70s American Myth and History. By Matthew Wilhelm Kapell (110,000 word manuscript). To be published in 2016 by Routledge.

  • An examination of American frontier myths in the late 1960s and 1970s. Topics include the effects of the Vietnam War on traditional American myths, NASA’s lunar landings, Star Trek, and the first detailed examination of Gerard K. O’Neill’s “High Frontier.” A complete re-examination of the importance of “myth” in American culture, this work is intended as a cultural and literary history, an examination of media and television, and a look at notions of utopian ideas in the period.

My previous books are:

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The Films of James Cameron: Critical Essays - Kapell & McVeigh

  • “By any measure, it is a noteworthy and important addition to a lively ongoing conversation.” – Shannon McRae, Journal of Popular Culture.

Star Trek as Myth - Matthew Kapell

  • “Graduates and scholars of science fiction will benefit from the range of insightful critiques in Kapell’s text while any self-respecting Trekkie should absolutely read this book.” – Kate S. Kelly, Journal of Religion and Popular Culture.
  • “Kapell had produced a useful and versatile collection of Star Trek and modern myth reflective of the franchise’s impact on popular culture and our ongoing propensity to create myths.” – Jen Gunnels, Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts.

  • Star Wars is the most important franchise in the history of American popular culture, and Kapell and Lawrence’s Finding the Force of the Star Wars Franchise: Fans, Merchandise, and Critics is the most important book about Star Wars.” – Gary Hoppenstand, editor, The Journal of Popular Culture.
  • “These essays place the dynamics of the twentieth century’s most wide-reaching science fiction phenomenon in a meaningful cultural and political context.” – Javier Martinez, editor, Extrapolation.

  • “Will become a classic in film studies.” – Ginette Paris, Spring Journal.
  • “Two things distinguish this useful mapping of the Wachowski brothers’ Matrix film trilogy… First, its range of contributors… second, the editors’ insistence on conversational writing makes for uncommon accessibility.” – Choice.

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