Summer 2014 - Graduate Course Descriptions

Riccio, Thomas
Discipline and Number
HUAS 6340 Section 59M
MW Time 5:30 PM - 10:00 PM
Course Title
Myth in Popular Culture

Description of Course:

A scholarly course mixing of lecture/discussion, demonstration, and fieldwork, this course will examine and explore how the intersection of myth and media is both a response and counterbalance to globalization—the wide accessibility to technology and media, a shared cultural language, the spread of democratic ideals, the prevalence of capitalism, the rise of individuality and personal freedoms—and how a new global mythic space is emerging. The course will also examine Myth in Popular Culture as a global phenomenon reflective and in response to cultural, sociological, economic, political evolutions and environmental collapse.

We are living in a world with, and immersed in, media. Our way of being and fundamental understanding of self, the world, time and space, is through the medium, form and content, of media expressions. A world where reality incessantly spins, blurs, blends, and folds time and space to create a new understanding of reality. A place of extremes, contrasts and contradictions, where what is real, virtual, fact, fiction, illusion, hyperbole, history, memory, mythology, culture, identity, brand, imagination, art, and fantasy can mash, morph and reconfigure according to necessity of its moment.

Ours is a post-modern world of fragments, modularity, multiple and negotiable contexts and truths, a world of performance, self-awareness, reflexivity, and of copies, re-combinations, reinventions, and reconsiderations without originals. It is a world of undergoing a global cultural emergence mediated by media. Yet the content, language, formations, and templates applied are mythological, if not fundamental, to the origins of human consciousness and civilization. The potent combination of Myth and/in Media is not only reiterates and reaffirms old while facilitating the creation of new mythologies, a new way of being in the world whereby we are becoming a self-aware performers and characters in a narrative we are simultaneously creating and enacting.

The course will provide the student with an overview, understanding (form and function), and the analytical tools necessary to apprehend the general concepts of myth, mythology, and media. Further, the course will provide the context and content necessary—post-modernism, late stage capitalism, and globalization—to engage in an examination of how Myth and its relationship to popular culture are increasingly becoming key articulators of the emerging global culture.

Required Texts:

Myth and Meaning
by Levi-Strauss

Images and Symbols
by Mircea Eliade

The Hero and the Outlaw
by Mark and Pearson
McGraw Hill Princeton

Understanding Comics
by McCloud
Wm. Morrow

by De Zengotita

Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:

Course Requirements/Evaluation
• It is a short, intense course, so attendance and active participation is very important.
• 2 short reaction papers—5 page minimum
• Field Research project and documentation (may relate to short papers and/or final project).
• Completion of reading assignments and participation in seminar discussion.
• Course attendance
• 1 final project—topic subject to instructor-student agreement dealing with myth in popular culture manifestations and may coordinate with short papers and/or field research projects.

1000pt scale [email protected] Short papers 40%
Field Research 20%
Final project 40%

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