Our site will be undergoing maintenance from 6 a.m. - 6 p.m. ET on Saturday, May 20. During this time, Bookshop, checkout, and other features will be unavailable. We apologize for the inconvenience.
Cookies must be enabled to use this website.
Book Image Not Available Book Image Not Available

See inside

Book details
  • Genre:ART
  • SubGenre:Popular Culture
  • Language:English
  • Pages:272
  • Paperback ISBN:9798350956900

Short Circuits

Brief Takes on Labyrinths in Popular (And Unpopular) Culture

by Jim Gardner

View author's profile page

Book Image Not Available Book Image Not Available

See inside


Lost and confused? Feel like a Minotaur will appear suddenly around the next corner and devour you, leaving a heap of bloody gore and bones? You're not alone. Join these characters in or near the labyrinth: Ariadne, Daedalus, Icarus, Theseus, Jesus, The Armed Man, Hester Prynne, Pilgrim, Pocahontas, Huck & Jim, K., Sally Carrol Happer, Clio Hunt, Pat Martino, Taylor Swift, Alice Tanner, Barbarella, The Man in the Maze, Ofelia, Robert Langdon, Thomas and Minho, Jareth the Goblin King, and, of course, Jack Torrance. Accept and appreciate that you are in good—or at least interesting—company as you attempt to navigate the maze of life.

Labyrinths teach us that confusion is embedded in our humanness—and that confusion's solution is also within: staying on the path, finding our way to the center, returning the way we came. Life is risky and dangerous, but, with the help of a guide, we might find our way and avoid a violent death at the hands (or hooves) of the Minotaur.

Short Circuits explores some of the multifaceted ways writers, musicians, artists, architects, and philosophers have incorporated labyrinths and mazes in their work. It's probably not a book for story-hour before bedtime, but it is a book for a labyrinth walker or a maze runner to get lost in.


Short Circuits takes a deep dive into the meaning of labyrinths and mazes, with a special emphasis on their appearance and usage in pop culture texts, songs, movies, and art. The book of short essays also explores the maze-like meanings of cities and urban design, as well as the prolific use of labyrinth symbolism in movies from The Shining to Barbarella. This hybrid cultural studies text includes forays into Greek myth, American history, sacred geometry, jazz, and the use of labyrinths in schools and colleges.

Target audiences include consumers of popular culture, teachers looking for ways to incorporate labyrinth texts into their curricula, and anyone interested in the symbolic meanings of labyrinths and mazes. The book functions as a kind of annotated bibliography for the scholar looking for essential and underexplored labyrinth texts, while maintaining an accessible tone and length for the curious reader of any background. From works by Taylor Swift to F. Scott Fitzgerald, the Wu-Tang Clan to Pablo Picasso, Short Circuits identifies and embraces groundbreaking artistic representations and interpretations of pop culture labyrinths. The last chapter, or circuit, is an interview with one of the world's foremost designers of labyrinths, Lars Howlett.

About the author

Asheville, NC native Jim Gardner has written for several publications, including Spectator Magazine (Raleigh, NC), The Independent Weekly (Durham, NC), and Green Line (Asheville). A Humanities instructor at Asheville School from 1994-2015, he currently is a substitute teacher at Asheville High School and makes music under the moniker Jr. James & The Late Guitar. He has deejayed on WDNA, WXYC, and WNCW, and he studied symbolism and other labyrinth-related topics at Berea College and UNC-Chapel Hill.

Book Reviews

to submit a book review