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A Path to the Stars Vs the Space Frontier National Space Mythology in Soviet and American Newspapers, 1957-1969
AuthorRoberts, Christina K
AdvisorWalker, Barbara B.
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This project examines the role of national space mythology in Soviet and US newspaper discourse between 1957 and 1969. Expressions of national mythology in both space programs anchored people’s lives in traditional mythological themes that had the potential to bring meaning to their experience of the space age. The role of newspaper media in this process should not be underestimated because newspapers were a vital conduit of public discourse, enabling the distribution and consumption of national mythologies. This thesis suggests that during the first decade of the space race, the Soviet press dispersed a purpose-driven and cohesive message about their space program that reinforced its national mythology. In comparison, the American press distributed a less cohesive, but still effective version of America’s national mythology. In Soviet space news, the dominant mythological theme was that of interplanetary travel, while in the U.S. it was a mythology of the frontier. Identifying a society’s connection to the role of space mythology may help us understand how it promotes a renewed national identity; acts as a factor of social cohesion (or dissonance), and as a vehicle to work out their reactions to the social burdens of the space race.