Presentation Title

Los Angeles Lizard People: An Exploration through Literature and History

Start Date

November 2016

End Date

November 2016

Location

HUB 302-#16

Type of Presentation

Poster

Abstract

This research project began as an exploration of the Los Angeles Lizard People in literature, sparked by interest in their appearance in Salman Rushdie’s Shalimar the Clown. However, traditional scholarly research yielded no relevant literary criticism, redirecting my line of inquiry outside the English discipline and into journalism and anthropology. An unconventional literature review of newspaper articles, interviews, and counterculture conspiracy theory publications became necessary to piece together the narrative of this urban legend. This research uncovered a vibrant, diverse, and surprisingly cohesive story of the Lizard People. Organized chronologically, we can trace the narrative in the Western world from the Hopi Native Americans all the way through to present day conspiracy theorists like David Icke. We can also trace a similar narrative through Indian mythology. A relationship between the two was originally informed by the original text in question, Shalimar the Clown, and the parallel was further explored and uncovered through interdisciplinary research. Though vastly under-researched by scholars of literature, urban legends and conspiracies like this contain and preserve aspects of our history as a culture. Observing their function in literature, particularly in works that interact with multiple cultures as Rushdie’s work does, also allows for comparison of storytelling and mythology.

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Nov 12th, 4:00 PM Nov 12th, 5:00 PM

Los Angeles Lizard People: An Exploration through Literature and History

HUB 302-#16

This research project began as an exploration of the Los Angeles Lizard People in literature, sparked by interest in their appearance in Salman Rushdie’s Shalimar the Clown. However, traditional scholarly research yielded no relevant literary criticism, redirecting my line of inquiry outside the English discipline and into journalism and anthropology. An unconventional literature review of newspaper articles, interviews, and counterculture conspiracy theory publications became necessary to piece together the narrative of this urban legend. This research uncovered a vibrant, diverse, and surprisingly cohesive story of the Lizard People. Organized chronologically, we can trace the narrative in the Western world from the Hopi Native Americans all the way through to present day conspiracy theorists like David Icke. We can also trace a similar narrative through Indian mythology. A relationship between the two was originally informed by the original text in question, Shalimar the Clown, and the parallel was further explored and uncovered through interdisciplinary research. Though vastly under-researched by scholars of literature, urban legends and conspiracies like this contain and preserve aspects of our history as a culture. Observing their function in literature, particularly in works that interact with multiple cultures as Rushdie’s work does, also allows for comparison of storytelling and mythology.