Event Title

Mothman: A Cold War Touchstone

Mentor 1

Nigel Rothfels

Start Date

16-4-2021 12:00 AM

Description

In 1966, sightings were reported in Point Pleasant, West Virginia of a creature who would eventually become known as Mothman. This would soon spark investigations into the existence of such a creature in which investigators would interview witnesses and result in works such as The Mothman Prophecies. It is within the context of these works that this paper will examine the emergence of the Mothman as well as its ties to Cold War America. Specifically, what does Mothman tell historians about America of the late 1960s and 1970s? In addition to its role as a Cold War cultural touchstone, the question of, “How does the Mothman relate to the growing distance between the average individual and a natural world in the late 20th century?”. Key to answering these questions is a review of the accounts, both primary and secondary related to the Mothman of the 1960’s and 1970s. This will serve as a reference point to the second methodology of comparison between the inception of the Mothman myth and its current standing in the early 21st century. This will be conducted through contact with the Mothman Museum as well as an examination of the annual Mothman festival held in Point Pleasant. Thus, this paper will examine not only the Mothman’s translation from creature of legend to museum mascot, but the state of American culture which allows this myth to persist within the public consciousness. While Mothman has increasingly become a humorous figure, its changing interpretations inform the process of mythmaking not only in the 1960s and 1970s but also through to the present.

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Apr 16th, 12:00 AM

Mothman: A Cold War Touchstone

In 1966, sightings were reported in Point Pleasant, West Virginia of a creature who would eventually become known as Mothman. This would soon spark investigations into the existence of such a creature in which investigators would interview witnesses and result in works such as The Mothman Prophecies. It is within the context of these works that this paper will examine the emergence of the Mothman as well as its ties to Cold War America. Specifically, what does Mothman tell historians about America of the late 1960s and 1970s? In addition to its role as a Cold War cultural touchstone, the question of, “How does the Mothman relate to the growing distance between the average individual and a natural world in the late 20th century?”. Key to answering these questions is a review of the accounts, both primary and secondary related to the Mothman of the 1960’s and 1970s. This will serve as a reference point to the second methodology of comparison between the inception of the Mothman myth and its current standing in the early 21st century. This will be conducted through contact with the Mothman Museum as well as an examination of the annual Mothman festival held in Point Pleasant. Thus, this paper will examine not only the Mothman’s translation from creature of legend to museum mascot, but the state of American culture which allows this myth to persist within the public consciousness. While Mothman has increasingly become a humorous figure, its changing interpretations inform the process of mythmaking not only in the 1960s and 1970s but also through to the present.