A survey of theoretical approaches to myth from the eighteenth century to the present. This survey begins with the transition from renaissance belief that myth is a form of moral instruction conveyed by allegory to the romantic belief that myth is a symbolic mode of discourse offering insight into transcendental reality. We will then chart the evolution of this approach, beginning with its inspiration in Kantian metaphysics and earliest formulations by German romantics such as Schiller and proceeding on to Freud and Ricoeur. A second strand begins with Hegel's theories of "false consciousness" that would in time develop into interpretations of myth as ideology , under the influence of Marx, Adorno, and Althusser. A final strand begins with the early folklorists, the brothers Grimm, and would in time develop into functionalist approaches to myth by anthropologists such as Malinowski, Boas, and Levi-Strauss. The resulting big picture is as much an intellectual history of modernity as a history of theorizing myth.(Also listed as CLAS 3350.) Prerequisites: Sophomore standing or consent of instructor.
The Interdisciplinary Clusters