1. Contact Information
  2. Prerequisites
  3. Course Description and Credit Hours
  4. Required Texts
  5. Course Objectives
  6. Student Learning Outcomes
  7. Other Course Materials
  8. Outline Of Topics
  9. Exams and Assignments
  10. Grading Policy
  11. Policy on Missed Exams and Coursework
  12. Attendance Policy
  13. Notification of Changes
  14. Custom Sections
  15. Statements on Academic Misconduct
  16. Statement On Disability Accommodations
  17. Severe Weather Protocol
  18. Pregnant Student Accommodations
  19. Religious Observances
  20. UAct Statement

Theories of Myth

REL 341-001Fall 2017 | 3 Credit Hours

Recitation or Discussion

Dr. Vaia Touna

Contact Information

UA Campus Directory:

Prerequisites

UA Course Catalog Prerequisites:

No prereqs found

Course Description

Course Description and Credit Hours

From Hercules to Achilles, to Odysseus, and from Oedipus Rex to Medea, myths of the ancient Greek world are as popular today as they were thousands of years ago. Why do we re-tell those ancient myths today? What makes something a myth? What’s the difference between a myth and a story? How did scholars try to explain the origin and function of myths? Do we produce myths today? The course will address those questions by looking at several myths of the ancient Greco-Roman world but also will look at the theories scholars developed in order to understand those stories. The course examines the history of differing theories of myth, conceived as a sub-type of narrative. Writing proficiency within the discipline is required for a passing grade in this course. A student who does not write with the skill normally required of an upper-division student in Religious Studies will not earn a passing grade, no matter how well the student performs in other areas of the course.

From Hercules to Achilles, to Odysseus, and from Oedipus Rex to Medea, myths of the ancient Greek world are as popular today as they were thousands of years ago. Why do we re-tell those ancient myths today? What makes something a myth? What’s the difference between a myth and a story? Is it the great deeds of the supernatural characters? How did scholars try to explain the origin and function of myths? Do we produce myths today? The course will address those questions by looking at several myths of the ancient Greco-Roman world but also will look at the theories scholars developed in order to understand those stories.

Required Texts

Required Texts from UA Supply Store:
  • BARTHES / MYTHOLOGIES (Recommended)

Student Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to:

Ø  Describe myths of the ancient Greek world.

Ø  Describe and discuss theories of myth.

Ø  Discuss and summarize assigned reading material.

Ø  Implement the above knowledge in writing assignments and oral presentations.

Other Course Materials

Readings

This course has no required books but PDF readings that will be available through the course’s Blackboard site; you are required though to have a hard copy of the readings in class. The schedule below provides a list of the readings that you will be responsible for on any given day. Doing all of your assigned readings well in advance of class is important because our seminar and the discussions all presume that you have the necessary background knowledge provided by these readings.

Bibliography 

1. Barthes, Roland. Mythologies. New York: Hill and Wang, 1982. 

2. Lincoln, Bruce. “The Prehistory of Mythos and Logos.” In Theorizing Myth: Narrative, Ideology, and Scholarship. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1999. 

3. Lincoln, Bruce. “From Homer through Plato.” In Theorizing Myth: Narrative, Ideology, and Scholarship. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1999. 

4. Lincoln, Bruce. “Myth, Sentiment, and the Construction of Social Forms.” In Discourse and the Construction of Society. Second Edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004 [1989]. 

5. Lincoln, Bruce. “The Politics of Myth.” In Discourse and the Construction of Society. Second Edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004 [1989]. 

6. Lincoln, Bruce. “Competing Uses of the Future in the Present.” In Discourse and the Construction of Society. Second Edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004 [1989]. 

7. Lincoln, Bruce. “Between History and Myth.” In Gods and Demons, Priests and Scholars: Critical Explorations in the History of Religions. Chicago: The University of Chicago, 2012 

8. McCutcheon, Russell. “The perfect past and the irony of narrative: Bruce Lincoln’s Theorizing Myth.” In The Discipline of Religion: Structure, Meaning, Rhetoric. London and New York: Routledge, 2003. 

9. McCutcheon, Russell. “Myth” In W. Braun and R. T. McCutcheon (eds.), Guide to the Study of Religion. London and New York: Cassell, 2000.

Outline of Topics

Tentative Schedule 

M. Aug. 28      Introduction to the Course—Staley’s “Myth and the Classical Tradition”

(all readings are posted as PDFs on Our Blackboard site)

M Sep. 4          No Class—Labor Day

M Sep. 11       McCutcheon’s “Myth”

M Sep. 18       Lincoln’t “The Politics of Myth”

M Sep. 25       Lincoln’s “Between History and Myth”

M Oct. 2          Segal’s “The Myth-ritualist Theory of Religion”

M Oct. 9          Movie

M Oct. 16        Fowler’s “Mythos and Logos”

M Oct. 23        Lincoln’s “The Prehistory of Mythos and Logos”

M Oct. 30        Lincoln’t “From Homer through Plato”

M Nov. 6         Barthes’s Mythologies

M Nov. 13       Barthes’s “Myth Today” in Mythologies

M Nov. 20       No Class        

M Nov. 27       McCutcheon’s “The Perfect Past”

M Dec. 4         Presentation of papers 

Final Papers Due: Monday December 11 by 3:30p.m.

Exams and Assignments

Requirements and Assignments 

Regular attendance, adequate preparation for each day’s readings, and active participation will be necessary requirements for this class as well as the following assignments: 

1.      Abstracts (50%)

You will be required to write 10 abstracts on the reading of the day (see tentative schedule below), that accurately describe the argument of the reading for that week, avoiding all assessment, commentary, or quotation, and which has to be followed by one question; each abstract should be a paragraph long, typed, double spaced, and with a 12 point Times Roman or Times New Roman font. Each abstract is worth 5% of your course grade for a total of 50%. They will be graded and returned the following class.

2.      Presentations  (30%)

Throughout the course each student will have to make 2 presentations (assigned during the first day of class).

Presentation I: You will be required to present a myth from Ancient Greece.

Presentation II: You will be responsible for leading the discussion on one of the assigned reading materials.

Each presentation will worth 15% of your course grade for a total of 30%.

3.      Final Assignment (20%)

At the end of the course you will be required to write a paper (of maximum 2500 words) applying things taught in the course at the piece of data you presented in class (see Presentation I). Each student is expected, during the last two classes of the semester, to make an informal presentation of their final paper topic to solicit input from the class.

Grading Policy

A+          95-100%                             C             70-74

A             90-94                                    D+          65-69

B+          85-89                                    D             60-64

B             80-84                                    D-           50-59

C+           75-79                                    F             below 50

Policy on Missed Exams and Coursework

Evidence of your legitimate absence must be presented to the professor in a timely fashion if you wish it not to count against you in the seminar. If you miss a presentation, that you were responsible for, you must contact the professor immediately to explain and document your legitimate absence, and you will be required to hand in your presentation as a writing assignment, the next class. The same applies for the abstracts, that is, if you miss a class for a legitimate reason you will be required to hand in the next time the class meets both the abstract of that day’s reading but also the abstract of the day you missed.

Attendance Policy

Regular attendance, adequate preparation for each day’s readings, and active participation will be necessary requirements for this class as well as the following assignments:

Notification of Changes

The instructor will make every effort to follow the guidelines of this syllabus as listed; however, the instructor reserves the right to amend this document as the need arises. In such instances, the instructor will notify students in class and/or via email and will endeavor to provide reasonable time for students to adjust to any changes.

Statement on Academic Misconduct

Students are expected to be familiar with and adhere to the official Code of Academic Conduct provided in the Online Catalog.

Statement On Disability Accommodations

Contact the Office of Disability Services (ODS) as detailed in the Online Catalog.

Severe Weather Protocol

Please see the latest Severe Weather Guidelines in the Online Catalog.

Pregnant Student Accommodations

Title IX protects against discrimination related to pregnancy or parental status. If you are pregnant and will need accommodations for this class, please review the University’s FAQs on the UAct website.

Religious Observances

Under the Guidelines for Religious Holiday Observances, students should notify the instructor in writing or via email during the first two weeks of the semester of their intention to be absent from class for religious observance. The instructor will work to provide reasonable opportunity to complete academic responsibilities as long as that does not interfere with the academic integrity of the course. See full guidelines at Religious Holiday Observances Guidelines.

UAct Statement

The UAct website provides an overview of The University's expectations regarding respect and civility.