Presentation on theme: "AMERICAN LITERATURE I Cultural Mythology What is myth? A good question. Myth is often thought of as a story that is not true, a legend, or a folktale."— Presentation transcript:
AMERICAN LITERATURE I Cultural Mythology What is myth? A good question. Myth is often thought of as a story that is not true, a legend, or a folktale. Myth is something more than this—
Definition of Myth Webster’s dictionary defines myth as: a traditional story of unknown authorship that ostensibly has a historical basis. This definition states that myths have an etiological or teaching purpose, especially the science of causes or origins.
A helpful beginning. The study of mythology can be defined as: 1. The science or study of myths or legends; 2. That branch of science which investigates the meaning of myths, and the relationship between the myths of different countries or peoples.
Cultural mythology, one of our concerns, can be defined as: 1. Religious myths 2. Historical myths 3. Poetical myths 4. Creation myths 5. Sociological myths Even these definitions, though helpful, are still limited, for myth is richer than all of the preceding.
Joseph Campbell and Mythology In his seminal work, The Golden Bough, Campbell describes the four functions of MYTH: 1. The first is the mystical function— realizing what a wonder the universe is, and what a wonder you are, and experiencing awe before this mystery.
Joseph Campbell, cont. 1. The second is a cosmological dimension, the dimension with which science is concerned—showing you what the shape of the universe is, but showing it in such a way that the mystery again comes through.
3.The third function is the sociological one—supporting and validating a certain social order. And here's where the myths vary enormously from place to place. It is this sociological function of myth that has taken over in our world—and it is out of date.
4.The fourth function of myth is the pedagogical function, which teaches how to live a human lifetime under any circumstances.
What do all of these images have to do with American Lit? 1. The mythologies that a culture assimilates into its collective and individual psychology determine world views. 2. All of these mythologies are interconnected and where we came from shows us where we are.
Let’s Go On the Hero’s Journey We’ll find God and Eden in the text. We’ll find ourselves and the cultural ethos that still influences America. We’ll find heroes and scapegoats. Creation myths, World myths, and Societal myths will be in evidence. We may discover our own common humanity.
Maybe we’ll discover that this is the ultimate myth that Apollo showed us in the 1960’s. This grand pale blue dot is at least where human mythologies take place.