Honors | Mythology and Culture (FOLK)
F253 | 27070 | Greg Schrempp
The term “mythology” carries a number of meanings, including ancient
stories associated with rituals, potent symbols, and images with an
uncanny power to stick in our minds and shape our worldviews. In
many usages, “mythology” also carries the connotation of the
temporally, spatially, and/or geographically distant. In this
course, we will look at examples of such “distant” mythologies,
including stories, rituals, and symbols embraced by the ancient
Greeks, Pacific Islanders, and Native Americans (who, though
spatially proximate, are regarded by many Americans as culturally
Some scholars, however, think that it is too confining, if not
prejudicial, to limit the concept of “myth” to such distant
societies and cultures. In the second part of the course, we will
consider the idea that mythology is to be found in many forms of
modern mass-culture, such as film, television, advertising, and
popular iconography. Throughout, we will consider the ways in which
mythology intersects with culture more broadly and the ways it
functions within society.
Anthropologists Bronislaw Malinowski’s Myth in Primitive Psychology
will be the focal work for the first half of the course; literary
and culture critic Roland Barthes’ Mythologies for the second.
Readings will be supplemented with visual materials. The workload
for this class will be moderate to heavy. Grades will be based on
participation, several short essays, and a concluding essay to be
written during the final exam period.
Open to Honors students and Folklore and Ethnomusicology majors.