LIT101: GRAND NARRATIVES & MYTHOLOGIES IN THE WESTERN TRADITION
Next Offered: 2021 Term 3. Eight consecutive sessions per Term. First class meets Wednesdays beginning 4 August 2021, 6:30-8:30pm, and the last class meets on Wednesday 22 September 2021.
Location: Berkley Intermediate School, Hillcrest, Hamilton. Distance learning options are available for this course. Details below.
Have you ever wondered what the grand old narratives and myths of the Odyssey, Exodus or the Arthurian legends are all about but never had the time to study them? This course offers the opportunity to find out more!
Some great narratives and mythologies have strongly influenced the self-construction and imagination of the West. These include legendary stories and mythologies of the Bible, ancient Greek and Roman narratives, as well as Celtic, Germanic and Slavic mythologies.
In this eight-week course, a part of our World Literature series, we’ll read and discuss some of the core texts of the Western mythological tradition together. Based on a few exemplary texts, we’ll also look at later up-takes of mythological elements and the long-term effects of these narratives, which sometimes endure to the present day, especially in contemporary novels, films and art work, for example.
Applying close and critical reading, we will try to understand which fundamental philosophical, religious and historical questions the mythology is addressing. Additionally, we’ll discuss why myths and narratives have come to be considered seminal, which narratives have gained global appeal, and what they may still mean to us today. Finally, we’ll consider how the texts contributed to the construction of a ‘Western’ tradition and what possible parallels there may be with other, non-Western stories.
This eight-week course provides a detailed introduction to the Western mythological tradition. You will be expected to do some pre-class reading each week of the short texts and stories. Class sessions are taught seminar style, with each class introduced with a talk, followed by a close and critical reading of the texts, and group discussion and reflection.
Individual sessions focus on:
- Week 1: Biblical Mythology: Genesis, Exodus, Abraham: Three visitors. Cosmology, creation, anthropology, imago dei, liberation theology, encounter, mystery, humour.
- Week 2: Biblical Mythology: Birth of Jesus, Death of Jesus, Apocalypse. Revolution and mysticism, metaphysical hope and ecclesiastical formation, eschatology, end time.
- Week 3: Ancient Greek Mythology: Odyssey, Sisyphus, Orpheus and Eurydice. Male heroes/lonesome men, life journey, alienation, absurdity, eros and thanatos, power of poetry and music, creation of art.
- Week 4: Roman and Early French and Italian Mythology: Ovid: Metamorphosis (Pygmalion, Pyramus and Thisbe) Chanson de Roland, Dante: Purgatorio. Gender and education, ageing, chivalry, narrativity and retribution.
- Week 5: Celtic Mythology: Arthurian Legend, Tristan and Isolde. Round Table: search for the summum bonum, fellowship, betrayal, redemption.
- Week 6: Germanic Mythology: Loki and Baldur, Peer Gynt, Grimm’s Fairy Tale (The Seven Ravens). Good and evil, vita activa and vita contemplativa, gender balance (archetypical).
- Week 7: Slavic Mythology: Baba Yaga, The Princess who never smiled. Otherness, eccentricity, coming of age.
- Week 8: (Meta-) Reflection, conclusion. Cosmology, foundation myths, myths of liberation, myths concerning mysteries of life and death, human relationships, life of heroes, archetypes, modern up-takes. Theories about myths and mythology: myth and functionalism (Eliade, Barthes), myth as condensed history (euhemerism), myth and archetypes (Freud, Jung), myth and ritual, myth as poetry/narrative, comparative mythology.
Prerequisites: There are no prerequisites for this course.
Distance Learning: This course has distance-learning options for those unable to attend the live class sessions in Hamilton. Students have three options for attending our courses once they have registered:
- attend in-person classes in our Hamilton classrooms at the regularly scheduled day and time,
- attend our live on-line classroom sessions via Zoom at the regular scheduled day and time,
- watch the live-recorded class sessions at your leisure, at a time, day and place more suited to your schedule.
These options can be mixed and matched throughout the course to suit your own availability and location.
This course is taught by Dr Norman Franke. Norman is a Hamilton based poet, scholar, artist and film maker (MA, Hamburg University; Ph.D. Humboldt University, Berlin). He has published widely about 18th century literature, German-speaking exile literature (Albert Einstein, Ernst H. Kantorowicz, Else Lasker-Schüler, Karl Wolfskehl) eco-poetics and at the intersection of religion and poetry. Norman’s poetry has been broadcast on radio and published in anthologies in Austria, Germany, New Zealand, Switzerland, the UK, and the USA. He was a Senior Lecturer at the University of Waikato for 22 years before his department was disestablished. He is currently a Conjoint Senior Lecturer & Research Fellow in the School of Humanities and Social Science at the University of Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia.
In addition to our in-person classes in Hamilton, our courses offer distance learning options for those unable to attend classes in-person. Live-streamed Hamilton classes are available via free Zoom software for those living outside the Waikato. Live-streaming allows you to participate fully in your own learning, ask questions of the instructor and participate fully in the same way as if you were in the physical classroom.
Those unable to attend the scheduled date and time of the actual class sessions, or those who need to miss a class or two due to previous engagements or unexpected illness, can watch any or all of the live-recorded video sessions on their computers, laptops, tablets or mobile devices and study at their own pace and in their own time.
Detailed instructions on how to access our distance learning components will be sent after completing your registration. There are no additional fees for this service. However, distance learners will need access to a desktop or laptop computer with a good quality web-camera (tablet devices and mobile phones can also access our live-streamed classes), a built-in microphone (most modern laptops have built-in microphones) or a headset with a microphone. You will also need to download and install the free Zoom software on your computer or device. Those accessing the video recordings will be able to do so with a simple web browser on any device.
- Detailed Syllabi are available at the start of each Term.
- Any Term can be taken independently of the others, and there are no prerequisites for any of the Term courses.
- This class has no assignments, quizzes, tests or exams.
- Some preparation however is required for familiarising yourself with the short stories, myths and texts prior to each course session.
- Sources for accessing and reading these are provided each week, either via PDF or web-based URL for on-line reading, downloading or printing at home.
- You will not need to purchase any reading materials.
- All classes encourage questions and group discussion.
- PDF copies of each class presentation are emailed to all participants the next day so that you are free to focus on class content rather than taking notes. You are most welcome to come, sit back, relax, take part in and enjoy the discussions!
- Course fees include a short tea/coffee/snack break in the middle of each session.
- There are no refunds for missed classes.
- Guests of registered participants are welcome to attend a single class at no charge.
- Certificates of Completion for any particular Term Course or Series are available for Professional Development purposes upon request at the end of each Term or Series.
Cost per person per Term (8 classes):
- Waged: $125 (includes GST + online registration fee)
- Unwaged (unemployed, students, seniors): $100 (includes GST + online registration fee)
Prices for Waged and Unwaged registrants remain the same regardless of your chosen method for accessing our courses. This means that you have the option to mix and match access between attending our regularly-scheduled live class sessions in our Hamilton classrooms, accessing our live class sessions on-line via Zoom at the regularly scheduled class meeting time (no matter where you are located), or watching the video-recorded sessions anywhere at a time and date of your choosing. This allows you to study at your own pace and in your own time.
Once registered, you have three choices for attending your course:
- attend our in-person class sessions in our Hamilton classrooms,
- Zoom in to our live classroom sessions and participate in discussions,
- access the live-recorded class sessions each week. This allows you to register for an entire course, even though the scheduled class session day/time may not be suitable to your schedule. You may also use this option to watch any recorded session for review, or in case you may miss a class session due to prior engagement, being away, or due to illness. This allows you to catch up with any “missed” sessions at a more suitable time.
Once registered, you will receive detailed instructions on how to access our courses via either of the distance-learning options, i.e. live access via Zoom, or watching the video-recorded sessions.
LOCATION: This course is held at Berkley Intermediate School in Hillcrest, Hamilton. Please enter via Mullane Street and park in the car park towards the end on the left-hand side. If this carpark is full you can park along Mullane Street. EarthDiverse staffers will be there to greet you on the first night of classes and can direct you to the correct room for your course. Please view the map below for details. Bikes are also welcomed!
DISTANCE LEARNING: You get to choose your location when you Zoom in to our live classroom sessions, or access our classes at your leisure and at a time and day of your choosing by watching the video recorded sessions from each class. This allows you to study at your own pace.