English 240 – Mythology

English 240: Mythology/ Prof Bower

(Office L-218) 294-8486



Myth and Knowing—Read Chapter 1 (1-31) Jan 23

Purposes and Definitions 
The Study of Mythology 
What is Myth Historically? 
The Rise of Mythology 
Mythology During the Enlightenment 
Mythology in the 20th Century Mythology Today 
Reading Mythology

Plato: The Allegory of the Cave, from The Republic , claymation & outline example

The Hero’s Journey—separation, initiation, return & Joseph Campbell

The Matrix / O’ Brother Where Art Thou?/ The Odyssey via Mythweb


Creation Myths, Read Chapter 2 (32-101) Jan 30 & Feb 6

The Birth of Order 
Classifying Cosmogonic Myths 
Types of Creation Myths 
Reading Creation Myths “The Creation, from The Eddas” (Norse/Iceland) “From Chaos to King Zeus” (from the Theogony/Greek) “Out of the Blue” (Modern retelling from Iroquois sources) “Creation Myth from the Vishnu Purana” (Hindu/India) “The Popul Vu” (Maya/Yucatan and Guatemala)

[Recommended] Campbell—“The Message of Myth”

The Popul Vu, 1988 “art” animation (in class)


Sacred Places, Read Chapter 6 (320-94) Feb 13 & 27

The Grounding of Mythology 
Gulliford’s Nine Categories of Sacred Places 
Deloria’s Four Categories of Sacred Sites 
Sites of Longing and Fear 
Combining Interpretive Strategies 
”The Zuni and the Grand Canyon” (modern Zuni account/Arizona) 
”The Emergence” (ancient Zuni account/Arizona)
”Sacred Landforms in Japan (Japan) 
”The Mountain of the Lotus and the Fan” (Japan) “Yoshoji and the Goddess Fuji” (Japan) 
”Ten Thousand Treasure Mountain” (Yao/China) 
”Kobo Stories” (Buddhist/Japan) “The Castle in the Lake” (Bon/Tibet)
 “Biriwilg Becomes a Painting” (Aboriginal Australia)

[Recommended] Campbell—“The First Storytellers”

Spirited Away (Excerpt 22:00)

Midterm Exam Mar 6  (includes test, 1-page proposal, and revised 100-word peer writing–40% of grade: 1-page written proposals may be made for a research or creative 4-5-page paper. Include proof of library research and are presented informally to the class.


The Female Divine, Read Chapter 3 (102-184) Mar 13 & 20

The Great Goddess 
Archetypal Psychology Goddess as Literary Character Types Reading the Female Divine 
”The Fire” Goddess (Hawaiian/Hawaii) 
”White Buffalo Calf Woman” (Brule Sioux/North American Great Plains) 
”Kali Beheaded” (modern retelling of Hindu materials/India) 
”Calisto and Arcas” (from Ovid’s Metamorphosis; Roman/Italy)

Tiamat & Dragon Myths (3:40-22 min)/ [Recommended] Campbell—“Love and Goddess”

Whale Rider


The Male Divine, Read Chapter 4 (185-246) Mar 27 & Apr 17

The Prehistory of God 
The “Sorcerer” of Trois Freres The “Shaman” of Trois Freres Images of the Masculine 
Reading the Male Divine “Bhagavad Gita” (Teachings 1, 2, 6, and 11; Hindu/India) “Enki and Ninhursanga” (Sumerian/Iraq) 
”Thor’s Dual with Hrungnir” (Norse/Iceland) “Quetzalcoatl Rescues the Precious Bones and Discovers Corn” (Aztec/Mexico)

[Recommended] Campbell—“Sacrifice & Bliss”

Firefly “Jaynestown”


Trickster Myths, Read Chapter 5 (247-319) Apr 24 & May 1

The Embodiment of Ambiguities 
Reading Trickster Myths 
”Why We Tell Stories about Spider” (Ghana/West Africa)
 “The Trouble with Rose Hips” (Lipan Apache/American Southwest) 
”Old Man Coyote Meets Coyote Woman” (Blackfoot/South-Central Canada, North-Central U.S.)
 “The Seven Great Deeds of Ma-ui” (Oceania) 
”Prometheus” (from the Theogony/Greek)

[Recommended] Campbell—“Masks of Eternity”

Wile E. Coyote vs Road Runner / Supernatural 2.15 “Tall Tales”

Final Exam May 8—includes test, 4-5 page paper, and revised 100-word peer writing–60% of grade.

Reading and Peer Response Writings (Signup sheet in class)

Each chapter lists what to read for class discussion.  Students will write two “100-word” summaries and 1-3 discussion questions selected from the class readings (one before midterm, one before the final) that include the myth’s plot/characters in a sentence of two and make relevant connections to the chapter scholarship.   (Do Google “writing summaries” and use the ASC writing table to prepare.)  Bring enough copies for peers the first day of new chapter discussions.  These brief but insightful readings are revised and handed in at midterms and finals.  If you have concerns about possible misattribution or plagiarism, please contact me.

4-5 page research or creative papers must use MLA formatting conventions, demonstrate library use, and be original for this class.  For example, a creative project might introduce/ summarize the author’s interest and important characteristics of tricksters, create a character sketch or mini-myth, and conclude by reflecting how this imagined trickster meets the cultural needs of a particular segment of society.  Another example might be a traditional research paper that selects one of the myths we didn’t read from our textbook, explain its significance and cultural context, and locate primary texts such as art images that support a critical discussion of the myth and its instruction.  Both of these examples would carry a Works Cited (or Works Consulted). A final example might be a book review of one of the further readings listed at the end of each chapter.