Over the Rainbow

The Wizard of Oz as a Secular Myth of America

By Paul Nathanson
Foreword by Katherine K. Young

Series: SUNY series, McGill Studies in the History of Religions, A Series Devoted to International Scholarship
Paperback : 9780791407103, 432 pages, December 1991
Hardcover : 9780791407097, 432 pages, January 1992

Table of contents

List of Illustrations




1. Introduction

2. Sight and Sound

3. Her Own Backyard

4. The Land of E Pluribus Unum

5. The Sweet Vales of Eden

6. Conclusion

Appendix 1. Methodological Notes

Appendix 2. Oz in American Popular Culture

Appendix 3. Religion and Secularity in America

Appendix 4. Going Home and Growing up on Television




Over the Rainbow shows how Dorothy's passage from Kansas to Oz and back again recapitulates paradigmatic stories of both America and Christianity. Defining human identity on three symbolic levels (individual, collective, and cosmic), Nathanson shows that The Wizard of Oz has come to be a "secular myth. "

Paul Nathanson is a researcher in the field of Religious Studies at the McGill Centre for Medicine, Ethics, and Law. He is working with Katherine K. Young on the forthcoming book The Future of Nature: Reproductive Technologies and the Symbolic Frontier.


"It is a most fascinating text reflecting an interest in the psychological, historical, sociological, and analytical approaches to film and religious studies. It presents a refreshing and in-depth study of this landmark film with extensive scholarship. Nathanson includes myriad bits of information that lie behind the scenes of the production itself and its historical context. " — John J. Michalczyk, Boston College

"The strength of this book is the thoroughness and imaginativeness with which the author approaches and covers the subject — and every area is treated with an innovative approach. I know it will be something of a landmark in film-culture studies. " — Ray B. Browne, Department of Popular Culture, Bowling Green State University