Stories That Tell Us Who We Are – REL 503

COURSE DESCRIPTION

Some stories do not just entertain. They are tales that make us say, “This is how the universe really works,” or “This is who I really am, ideally” — and they become parts of us that will not let us go. These stories are myths, in the highest and best sense of the word. This course will look at myths from around the world, and from ancient Greece and Japan up to modern tales like The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars. It will reflect on how vibrant myth can empower one’s life and also examine the dangers of “mythic thinking.” Join us as we explore some of the most engaging and dynamic narratives ever known to humankind.

Professor: Robert S. Ellwood
Administered by Jonathan Young, Ph.D.

 


COURSE SESSIONS AND TOPICS

This course is divided into ten, one-hour sessions. The introductory session,
Encountering Myth: From Amaterasu to Star Wars, is presented in both audio
and video format to better acquaint the student with the instructor.

Session 1 | Encountering Myth: From Amaterasu to Star Wars
Session 2 | Types and Theories of Myth
Session 3 | Creation Myths: In the Beginning
Session 4 | The Hero’s Journey: The Warrior
Session 5 | The Hero’s Journey: The Savior
Session 6 | Eschatalogical Myths: The End of the World
Session 7 | Shadow Side: Myths of Evil, the Trickster, and the Flood
Session 8 | Nationalist Myths: Politics and Religion
Session 9 | Mythologists and Modern Myth
Session 10 | Myth and Psychology

 

LEARNING OUTCOMES

Outcome 1: Identify and comprehend the basic
definitions of and theories about myth.

Outcome 2: Comprehend the importance of
viewing myth as story based in oral culture.

Outcome 3: Identify basic types and theories about myth, and
comprehend scholarlysupport of and objections to the concept of myth.

Outcome 4: Define the different types of creation myths,
“one-time” and “cyclical” creation.

Outcome 5: Comprehend the basic meaning of the hero in myth,
and identify the warrior hero as distinguished from the savior hero.

Outcome 6: Identify several typical hero (warrior and savior)
figures and their myths, and explain the issue of whether the stories
of the founders of historical religions should be considered myths
and in what sense.

Outcome 7: Identify and distinguish myths of personal
immortality and the end of the world.

Outcome 8: Identify the variety of approaches to the problem of
evil in myth, and the role of the trickster and the flood in myth.

Outcome 9: Describe the relation between mythology
and modern nationalism, analyzing the role of myth,
acknowledged or not in politics today.

Outcome 10: Identify the basic positions
in the theoretical approach to myth.

Outcome 11: Comprehend criticisms of modern mythology
and identify proposed examples of myth in the modern world.

Outcome 12: Comprehend how the major schools of psychology
approach myth, and identify differences between the psychology
of oral and literate cultures.

Outcome 13: Define the meaning of belief in relation to myth.

 

PROFESSOR(S)

Robert Ellwoo d, Ph.D. – (History of Religion, University of Chicago Divinity School). Dr. Ellwood is the Emeritus Professor of Religion, University of Southern California. He teaches for the University of Philosophical Research, the Holmes Institute, and speaks at Krotona in Ojai, California. Author of 22 books, including: Many People, Many Faiths; The Pilgrim Self; and The Fifties Spiritual Marketplace.

Jonathan Young, Ph.D. – Clinical Psychology, Alliant International University, San Diego. Storyteller and psychologist, Dr. Young assisted Joseph Campbell at seminars and was the founding curator of the Joseph Campbell Archives and Library. His books and articles focus on personal mythology. Creator and former chair of the Mythological Studies at the Pacifica Graduate Institute, Dr. Young is now director of the Center for Story and Symbol in Santa Barbara, California.

 

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PURCHASE AUDIO / VIDEO

The lecture series from this course is also available for independent study.
>> Click Here to order these course materials.

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