*Mythology - ENGL 3223

Course Overview:

This three- (3) credit-hour upper-division online course provides an introductory exploration of classical and comparative mythology and an examination of the role of myth in society, the relation of myth to other disciplines, and the relationship between myth and Christianity.

This course begins with definitions of mythology and an introduction to some theories of interpreting myth. We will examine the hero monomyth and its manifestations, and its connections to other dominant archetypes such as the trickster. Your paper on a cultural hero(ine) explores the cultural functions of the hero and provides background for considering the hero archetype comparatively across multiple cultures.

We will then broaden our study to other dominant archetypes in world mythologies and and exploring theories that explain the origin of archetypes, giving you an exposure to comparative mythology with a focus on creation/destruction myths from around the world.  Your project on an archetype will explore the reinterpretations of archetypes in dominant symbol systems such as art and/or religion.

The course then moves on to focus on classical mythology, particularly on major figures from the classical pantheon and how they functioned in its society and culture. We will also consider the appropriation and reinterpretation of classical myth by considering Roman uses of Greek myth.  Your paper on a particular classical god or goddess will illuminate the functions of these figures in Greek and Roman cultures

The course then focuses on the legend of Troy and its Western heritage. In our discussion of the Trojan War we will revisit the roles of the various gods and goddesses from the classical pantheon and examine their relationships with human beings, considering Troy's famous spinoff stories such as that of Odysseus and Aeneas. Your project on the Troy legend will suggest the continuing impact of classical mythology on Western and contemporary culture.

Next, we will consider the relationships between myth, ritual and religion, particularly the syncretic approach of the early Christian church to the pagan context in which it emerged, the experiential nature of the mystery religions, and Christian mythmaking by the Inklings.  You will reprise major course themes this week through a film analysis related to one of our course topics.

We will conclude with a survey of mythologies in popular culture and consider the question of relevant mythologies for our own time, focusing on fairy tales and their adaptations and mythology in contemporary science fiction, fantasy, and tales of the undead.  Viewing the film WHALE RIDER will provide an example of relevant modern mythmaking as well as providing a review of key course themes in preparation for the final integration essays.

At the completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Define myth.
  • Explain the reasons behind the creation and perpetuation of myth.
  • Be familiar with various forms of myth, including classical and comparative mythology and myth in popular culture.
  • Recognize commonalities among myths and the theories explaining these.
  • Describe some relationships of myth to science, history, psychology, and religion.

Course Materials:

Textbooks:  The first two listed below are required texts:

  • Thompson, The Trojan War: Literature and Legends from the Bronze Age to the Present, McFarland, 2004 or 2013 (available both print and e-book)

    • (2004) ISBNs for print book: ISBN-10: 0786417374; ISBN-13: 978-0786417377
      (2013) ISBNs for print book: ISBN-10: 0786472294 | ISBN-13: 978-0786472291 | Edition: 2
    • both editions are available as ebook for Kindle:  
      2004 ASIN: B002XDQK1K and 2013 
      ASIN: B00D9A5VJ8
    • This text has a companion website

  • Thury and Devinney, Introduction to Mythology:  Contemporary Approaches to Classical and World Myths, Oxford UP, 3e, 2012 (available both print and e-book)

    • ISBN for print book: ISBN-10: 019985923X; ISBN-13: 978-0199859238
    • Specify package ISBN (9780199928941) to purchase this book and Now Playing supplement below
    • E-book purchase or digital rental for 180 days from CourseSmart.
    • This text has a companion website

  • [optional] Rosen, Thury, and Devinney, Now Playing:  Learning Mythology Through Film, Oxford UP, 2013

    • ISBN 9780199862771; available as stand-alone print copy through Amazon
    • Available as package add-on with print version of Intro. to Myth textbook; specify package ISBN package 9780199928941

Online readings:  Other short required course readings are provided on Moodle, along with recommended library resources and websites.

Textbooks:  You will be required to secure access to two films during this course:  a recommended film title for the film analysis assignment (Week Five) and Whale Rider (Week Six).  These films may be rented at local outlets or via Amazon, iTunes, HuluPlus, etc.


A detailed listing of course assignments appears below, along with minimum requirements and a table indicating points possible and the weeks when major assignments are due.

  1. Read all assigned readings from textbooks and other articles, and complete any assigned video viewings, as posted in the weekly schedule.

  2. Complete the 7 required class exercises (5 points. each; 5 offered, including 3 quizzes, WHALE RIDER exercise, and opening introductory forum and 2 questionnaires) (25 points possible)

  3. Actively participate in 15-17 class forums related to course ideas and material (3 points each; 17 offered; the lowest 2 grades will be dropped) (45 points possible)

  4. Submit 6 key concept reflections, one set of notes each weekin any of the approved formats (5 points each; 6 submissions) (30 points possible)

    The remaining major assignments are spaced weekly throughout the course:

  5. Research and write 2 short papers (5 pages each) on specified topics (45 points; 2 papers) (90 points possible)

  6. Research and complete 2 class projects (10-12 PowerPoint slides each), which may be undertaken with a partner, from the options provided (30 points each; 2 projects) (60 points possible)

  7. Complete film viewing and submit 1 film analysis (2 pages) from recommended film options (30 points; 1 submission)  (30 points possible)

  8. Write 1 set of integration essays serving as the course final (45 points; 1 submission) (45 points possible)
Minimum requirements:

You cannot receive a passing grade in this course if you do not turn in and earn a passing grade on all the following assignments:
  • all 7 of the required exercises
  • 8 of the 15 class forums
  • 4 of the 6 key concept reflections
  • 1 paper
  • 1 project 
  • 1 film analysis
  • 1 set of integration essays





 Required class exercises

 Weeks 1, 3, 4, and 6


 Class forums

 Weeks 1-6


 Key concept reflections  Weeks 1-6


 Papers  Weeks 1 and 3 30


 Weeks 2 and 4

 Film analysis  Week 5 90
 Integration Essays  Week 6 45

Total possible points for course