By Andrea Lynn There are plenty of reasons why Elvis Presley continues to crop up everywhere since his death 17 years ago, but Gilbert Rodman disagrees with most of them. According to Rodman, an authority on stardom in general and "the King" in particular, Elvis' unusual second life of "cultural ubiquity" isn't - as many have argued - the result of extensive merchandising and marketing, the refusal of fans to let go of their idol, or the postmodern condition that currently defines U.S. culture. Rather, the enduring cultural presence of Elvis, Rodman argues in a book he is writing, is due to his "uncommon resonance as a cultural symbol and the diversity of cultural myths surrounding him, not only today, but throughout his lifetime." In "Elvis After Elvis: The Posthumous Career of a Living Legend" (to be published by Routledge in December), Rodman argues that while any number of stars who have died are linked with important cultural myths - Marilyn Monroe with myths of sexuality, James Dean with myths of youthful rebellion - "only Elvis manages to encompass and be encompassed by virtually all the major strands of U.S. cultural mythology" since World War II. In other words, unlike all other icons, the image of Elvis Aron Presley seems to push everyone's buttons simultaneously, and he serves a wide range of functions in public debates over race, gender and sexuality, class and the American Dream. Rodman, a doctoral student in communications research at the University of Illinois, uses cultural theory to get at the social and political significance of Elvis' current ubiquity. He uses Elvis "as a guide for rethinking the ways in which we theorize the relationship between popular culture, stardom and society." According to Rodman, there's also a religious component - an aura - that surrounds Elvis, and the major Elvis tourist sites, including Graceland, do their part to "create and maintain" that aura. Indeed, since his death, "Elvis has truly become a saint, if not a god, to vast numbers of people," Rodman writes. "The deification of Elvis, however, is more than just an example of fandom spinning madly out of control," he writes, "as the elevation of Elvis to holy status relies on the combined efforts of the Presley estate, the media and his fans." Elvis' status as a contemporary god "helps to make him what any good deity should be: an omnipresent force within the culture that worships him." Elvis is everywhere, Rodman writes, "sneaking out" of everything from songs and movies, advertisements and children's books, to university courses, art exhibits and home-computer software. And, whenever Elvis appears, Rodman said, "it is largely as a mythical figure, rather than a historical personage or a noteworthy artist." "His body may have failed him in 1977," writes Rodman in a recent article for the academic journal Cultural Studies, "but today his spirit, his image and his myths do more than live on: They flourish, they thrive, they multiply."