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AT4534: ANTHROPOLOGY OF MYTH (2014-2015)

Last modified: 28 Jun 2018 10:27

Course Overview

Studying myths is a core part of the anthropology of religion; they are sacred narratives. Myths are also a core part of the oral literature of a culture. We start with ancient Greek mythology to explore the category of myth distinguished from other kinds of verbal arts. The course then looks at myth as performed oral narrative and the performer-audience relation in order to understand the production of texts. Studying myths is an excellent way to get at particular cultural categories and how those categories shape individual and collective action. Students choose their own topic for the essay.

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 4
Session Second Sub Session Credit Points 30 credits (15 ECTS credits)
Campus None. Sustained Study No
  • Dr Alexander King

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Course Description

The anthropology of myth highlights the social and cultural contexts of myths as sacred narratives. This course draws upon a wide range of cultures, from ancient Greeks, Mesopotamia and China to contemporary Africa, Asia, and the indigenous peoples of the Americas. Boasian approaches to Native American myths as oral literature and windows into cultural values can be contrasted with the functionalist theories of Tylor and Malinowski. This course emphasizes the performative qualities of myth, drawing upon the work by Dell Hymes, Albert Lord, Dennis Tedlock, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Edmund Leach, Ruth Finnegan, Peter Gow and others. The course concludes with a discussion of the relevance of myth in contemporary society, such as found in the fiction by Tolkien or novels by Native American writers like Alexie, Silko, or Welch.

Contact Teaching Time

Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.

Teaching Breakdown

More Information about Week Numbers

In light of Covid-19 and the move to blended learning delivery the assessment information advertised for courses may be subject to change. All updates for first-half session courses will be actioned no later than 1700 (GMT) on 18 September 2020. All updates for second half-session courses will be actioned in advance of second half-session teaching starting. Please check back regularly for updates.

Summative Assessments

1st Attempt: Coursework (60%); three-hour examination (40%).

Resit: Examination (100%).

Formative Assessment

Seminar presentations and discussions.


Written feedback will be provided for continuous assessment work. This will normally be provided within three weeks of the submission date. Oral feedback on class presentations will also be provided where appropriate.

Course Learning Outcomes


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