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Week 1 Journal

A myth is a story that embodies a particular conception of the human condition. In the Odyssey, life is represented as a journey. Mythology scholar Joseph Campbell thought all myths followed a similar journey, which he believed symbolically expressed deep truths about human psychology. For Campbell myths are a way we learn to be human and to deal with the ordinary challenges of life and society. For more about Campbell’s theory, see Matthew Winkler’s animated video “What makes a hero? (Links to an external site.)” in this week’s Recommended Multimedia Resources.

This journal assignment explores the relevance of the literary texts we are reading to our own lives. This week, as we read the about the journey of Odysseus, we might consider our own journeys. In two to three pages, describe one obstacle that Odysseus meets in his journey. What is the obstacle and how does he overcome it? Making connections to your own life, discuss a situation when you faced and overcame an obstacle in one of your own journeys that came between you and your destination. You may interpret this journey symbolically, for example, a journey to yourself (your own personal identity), back to your family or heritage, or one to follow a dream. In keeping within the three page limit, be sure to focus on essential points in both your journey and that of Odysseus.

 

Required Resources

Reading

Homer. (n.d.). The Odyssey (Links to an external site.) abridged (I. Johnston, Trans.). Retrieved from http://records.viu.ca/~johnstoi/homer/abridgedodysseyweb.htm

  • This is the core text for this week. It will provide the main example of how mythology and literature function to embody a particular perspective on the human condition. It will also exercise your reading skills and help you build intellectual “muscle.” You should try to read the whole thing before attempting to begin your Discussion.
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Multimedia

Brenzel, J. (n.d.). The value of forgotten ideas (Links to an external site.). [Video file]. Retrieved from http://bigthink.com/videos/the-value-of-forgotten-ideas-2

  • In this short video, Dr. Jeffrey Brenzel summarizes five reasons to read old books like the ones we will read in this course. These ideas might help spark your thinking as you prepare for your own defense of the humanities in your final paper. A transcript is available on the page.
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Websites

The Book of Life. (n.d.). What comes after religion? (Links to an external site.) Retrieved from http://www.thebookoflife.org/what-comes-after-religion/

  • Besides art, literature, philosophy, and history, another one of the core areas of the humanities is religion. If you are religious, then you probably don’t need to be convinced to study religion. But not everyone in modern society is religious. Why should nonreligious people bother to study religion? We will return to this idea in future weeks. For example, in Week 4 we will examine the religious point of view, and in Week 5 we will think about the ways romantic love came to be a replacement for religion in modern society. For now, this video will introduce you to the area of the humanities known as religious studies. In this short video professed atheist Alain de Botton explains some of the things secular people have to learn from religion.
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The Book of Life. (n.d.). What is the point of the humanities? (Links to an external site.) Retrieved from http://www.thebookoflife.org/what-is-the-point-of-the-humanities/

  • The core areas of the humanities include Art, Literature, Philosophy, and History. In this series of four to five minute videos, author Alain de Botton discusses the relevance of these four areas of the humanities to our everyday life.
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Recommended Resources

Readings

Johnston, I. (2004). Lecture on the Odyssey (Links to an external site.). Retrieved from http://johnstoniatexts.x10host.com/lectures/odysseylecture.html

  • An overview of the main themes from Homer’s Odyssey by the translator of our text.

Segal, R. (2008). Myth and ritual. In J. R. Hinnells (Ed.), The Routledge Companion to the Study of Religion (pp. 355-378). London: Routledge.

  • This chapter, available in the Ashford University Library, has a discussion of different theories about the nature and function of myth.

Multimedia

Mapping the stars: The Great Bear (1992) ~ Simon Patterson (Links to an external site.)” (2011, March 27). [Web blog post] George’s Journal. Retrieved from http://georgesjournal.org/2011/03/27/mapping-the-stars-the-great-bear-1992-simon-patterson/

  • An analysis of the painting discussed in the Course Overview video, including pictures.

Pattanaik, D. (2009). East vs. West – the myths that mystify (Links to an external site.) [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/devdutt_pattanaik

  • A lecture on the importance of understanding myth for success in the world of business and an explanation of how Hindu myths differ from Greek myths.

Segal, R. (n.d.) UO Today #561 Robert Segal (Links to an external site.) [Video file] Retrieved from http://media.uoregon.edu/channel/2013/12/21/uo-today-561-robert-segal/

  • Robert Segal discusses the relationships between myth, religion, and science.

Warburton, N. (2010). Martha Nussbaum on the value of the humanities (Links to an external site.) [Podcast]. Retrieved from http://philosophybites.com/2010/12/martha-nussbaum-on-the-value-of-the-humanities.html

  • Philosopher Martha Nussbaum explains why a functioning democracy requires citizens trained in the humanities

Winkler, M. (n.d). What makes a hero? (Links to an external site.) [Video file]. Retrieved from http://ed.ted.com/lessons/what-makes-a-hero-matthew-winkler

  • An animated explanation of Joseph Campbell’s theory that myths from all cultures follow a similar pattern.

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