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Choose three stories from three different cultures for compare and contrast. Only one of those cultures may be modern Euro-American. You will, therefore, need to explore other culture's mythos: Native American, Australian Aborigine, African, Asian, etc. You can also travel far back in time to explore the mythic narratives of the ancient world. One way or another, get as far out as you can into the deep ocean of myth and legend!
You can find your stories from various sources, your own personal library, a public library, or reputable online web sources: Wikipedia, blog entries, or popular websites are not considered authoritative. Your goal is to get as close to the origin source of your mythic material as possible.
The stories should be concise, such as fairytales, legends, folk tales, ethnographic records, or religious texts, but they might be fragments of larger narratives as well.
In your essay you will clearly analyze the plots, characters, and/or settings of these stories using the universal perspective, the cultural perspective, and the pedagogical/psychological perspective. You will also do independent research where you explore what scholars, mythologists, anthropologists, artists, psychologists, or other commentators have said about your topic and cite them in your essay, using MLA style.
In the end, however, the essay is unique to you. The richness of this sort of comparison/contrast arises from developing a strong thesis or insight into the meaning of the tales and driving it home with cogent argument supported by solid research.
What this requires is a nugget of insight. Before writing, you must utilize your synthesizing intelligence and get beneath the superficial features of your myths and penetrate towards their core. In that way, your discussion can significantly relate to what it means to be human––not merely a mechanical discussion of superficial elements.
We will be developing your essay in stages throughout the semester, beginning with our first module where you find one mythic narrative from a particular culture in which you recognize a universal theme. Identify the theme, summarize the story and explain why you think it is interesting.
Things to think about:
The process of Jungian individuation
The "initiatory" aspects of fairytale form and what do the stories initiate?
Do the stories conform to the Campbellian monomythic form; the hero's journey, and in what ways do they conform or veer from that pattern?
Are Jungian archetypes present? What are they and how do they function in the mythic narrative?
On each mythic narrative that appeals to you. Answer the following questions about the narrative:
Summarize the story in 3–5 sentences
Explain why you think it is interesting
Identify the universal theme (What universal qualities of the human experience does the story reflect?)
Identify the pedagogical/psychological theme (What is the lesson that is supposed to be taught in this story? What does it tell us about human psychology?):
Identify the Cultural theme (What aspects of the story reflect the specific culture that produced the story?)
Discuss the insights you have had into your three mythic narratives. What deep structure and purpose do they share? What superficial features are the same? What features are different? What is the pedagogical purpose, or the meaning, that they all share with one another?
Do independent research where you find at least three other scholars, mythologists, anthropologists, artists, psychologists, or other commentators who have written about your mythic narratives. Give their credentials and summarize their discussion. Be prepared to cite them in your essay, using MLA style.
Choose three stories from three different cultures for compare and contrast. Only one of those cultures may be modern Euro-American. You will, therefore, need to explore other culture's mythos: Native American, Australian Aborigine, African, Asian, etc. You can also travel far back in time to explore the mythic narratives of the ancient world.