Unpacking Myth

ANTHR 222 Learning Journal Option #1: Unpacking Myth


You’ll read about one or more ways of interpreting myth and then use one of these approaches to try to interpret a myth that is probably unfamiliar to you.


You need to complete BOTH parts!

Immediately after this discussion in the topical module is a PDF of a reading by Leonard and McClure, “The Study of Mythology,” that describes various approaches to interpreting myth. ( I can send the pdf)

You’ll need to use this reading to help you with the assignment. You’ll want to pay particular attention to the following (some advice- for your own notes, try summarizing in a sentence each of the following ways to approach the study of mythology):

  • Rise of Psychology and Joseph Campbell p. 59-60
  • Claude Levi-Strauss p. 60-61
  • Mircea Eliade p. 61-62
  • Considering 20th Century Mythology Critically p. 62-64
  • Doty’s “Toolkit” and Lincon’s Ideological Narratives p. 64
  • Doniger’s Telescopes and Microscopes and Ellwood’s “Real Myths” p. 64-65

Then, listen to me tell the Myth of Taliesin:


For your discussion journal, select TWO of the following approaches to unpacking the “Myth of Taliesin.” Identify your selected approach. Answer the questions listed for each of those approaches. Your response should be about 2 paragraphs.

1. Social functions (What does the myth tell us about how to behave? About society?)

2. Archetypes and the unconscious (Can you identify major archetypes? What do they mean?)

3. The individual’s spiritual journey (What does the myth say about the goals of the spiritual journey and how to get there?)

4. Structural opposition (Can you identify major binary opposites? What do they mean?)

5. Story-telling and its meaning in time/place (How do you think the meaning of this myth is affected by how it is told? How do you think people might use it?)

6. Myth as literature (Who are the characters? What is compelling about the story?)

7. How myth affects our emotions and intellect (What did you feel as you heard the myth? What thoughts came to mind?)

8. The cultural context of symbolism (What in the myth may be symbolic? What cultural knowledge of these

Attachments area
Answer preview

            Joseph Campbell argued that there is a single monomyth from which all narratives pertaining to myths come from (Lehman et al., 2004). According to him, myths help individuals find their true nature, identity, and place in society. Claude Levi-Straus infused structuralism into the study of myths. He believed myths had a meaning, and as such, incorporating structuralism will help people understand not only them but also the function they serve. It was a mechanism of giving meaning to literacy materials. Mircea Eliade took a different approach by looking at the link between religion and myths. He argued that myths operate as time machine vehicles, allowing people to return to what he refers to as “the time of origin” and start their lives anew (Lehman et al., 2004)..

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