ENG 616 (World Literature in English): History and Theory of Mythology
The word “mythology” is an oxymoron. It combines two Greek terms, mythos and logos, which the ancient Greeks used to differentiate two types of speech or narrative: the former refers to statement that defies logic and does not need to be justified, while the latter requires reason and justification. Put it simply, mythology is the logical study of the seemingly illogical.
This course looks at the rise of modern mythology as a discipline while examining representative classical texts that help us see the nature, function and purpose of myth-making. These classical texts show us early history of myths and their diverse literary forms, such as epic, tragedy, philosophical narrative, and anthology. We will also study various theoretical approaches towards myths that have become influential since the beginning of the 20th century, such as Levi-Strauss’s structuralism, psychoanalytical theories of Jung and Rollo May, Barthes’s semiotic analysis, Campbell’s archetypal hero and the hero’s journey. These theoretical texts will provide us links between the classical texts and the modern world we live in.