Course Resources

The following links are designed to facilitate exploration into course topics and to help students enhance their research skills by offering advice on the "tricks of the trade" used by scholars in the humanities.

Conducting Research l Introduction and Theory l Archetypes, heroes, & cycles l Gilgamesh l
Plato's metaphors
l Theseus l Arthur l India l Scandinavia l China
l American Southwest l other stuff

A page of primary sources (original texts in translation) is available at Stories and Texts
 


Conducting high-quality research

Internet Ancient History Sourcebook

This is a valuable resource on topics concerning the ancient world. See especially the introduction, and the page on studying history, which offers advice on using both primary sources and secondary works. Other topic sourcebooks that pertain to this class:

Internet Medieval Sourcebook

Internet Indian History Sourcebook

Internet East Asian History Sourcebook

See also my research resources for information on evaluating sources and tips on research techniques. Don't forget to consult the nice folks in the Kelley Library for help, either.

F. Max Muller, Contributions to the Science of Mythology (e-text; London: Longmans, Greene, 1897) is one of the seminal works in the study of myth.

The History of Mythology by Scott A. Leonard (Youngstown University) outlines the development of the ways in which myths have been studied over time. His essay, "What is Myth?" (from the same course) is also helpful, and offers a somewhat different perspective from mine.

World Myths and Legends in Art from the Minneapolis Institute of Art includes a page on "What Is Myth?" and sections on different mythic traditions around the world as they're reflected in artworks.

Myth and Legend from Ancient Times to the Space Age. Nice introductory page and links to topics in myth and folklore.

Windows to the Universe: Mythology: myths about many aspects of human experience; for kids (primarily) but with good information.

Mythology in Western Art lists links to resources on images of particular gods and goddesses.

Mything Links is website composed primarily of annotated links to various aspects of myth. It's a bit new agey, but that may appeal to some of my students. The author is not a web designer, so the site can be awkward to use; the table of contents is way toward the bottom of the home page.

Topic Links
Note: many of the following websites have been around for several years without being consistently updated. If any of them are so full of dead links as to be annoying or less useful than you'd like, please let me know and I'll delete them from the list.

Introduction and theory

J. Farrell's Myth notes Joe Farrell teaches a course on mythology at Penn, and these lecture notes offer a perspective similar to mine.

William A. Johnson (Bucknell University), has constructed a very useful website for his course (it goes back to 1998) Classical Mythology. His lecture notes and links are particularly helpful. Another well-documented site maintained by Laurel Bowman at the University of Victoria can be found at Classical Myth: The Ancient Sources, which includes links to images and texts, arranged by mythic character. Yet another solid source is the Greek Mythology Link, which offers biographies of mythical figures, images, and other information. It's supported by ads that can be off-putting, but the information is there.

Folklore, Myth, & Legend This site from the University of Calgary in Canada provides good sources for fairy tales and stories; there are lots of links here.

The Perseus Digital Library provides a searchable database of images and texts from ancient Greece and Rome and related areas. Although it's a little tough to negotiate if you're not familiar with classical studies, the information you can gather is well worth the effort. Primary sources for most Greek and Roman myths can be found through Perseus.

Online Mythology Resources This is a links list generated by Joseph Farrell who teaches a course on mythology at the University of Pennsylvania. The links are mostly Classical Greek and Roman, but some other sources are listed at the end.

Myths and Legends Links are divided by country or culture; this University of New Hampshire site also includes a general information category on myths, and a number of other reference lists.

A superb effort from Penn, for a course which concentrates on the Greeks and later understandings of Greek myth: Prof. Peter Struck's Mythology course page. I found about him from a review in the Penn Gazette (the alumni magazine).

Mary Magoulick teaches at Georgia College and State University, and her page, What Is Myth, is extremely helpful. See especially her descriptions of Structuralism and Functionalism for a clear view of these two scholarly frameworks for understanding how myth works.

Bulfinch's Mythology--The Age of Fable: one of the most beloved compilations of numerous stories.

Here's an interesting page for an online course on Mythology and Folklore from the University of Oklahoma. I found it while looking for Gilgamesh images, but it includes quite a bit more, and the approach is comparative.

Archetypes, Heroes, & Cycles

In class we'll be exploring the concept of archetypes, particularly as they influence the work of modern film makers such as George Lucas and writers like J. R. R. Tolkien. This clever page (or pages, a subset of moongadget.com) explores the origins of Star Wars, including its debt to The Lord of the Rings.

Here's a helpful article about Carl Jung by Dr. George Boeree, a retired professor of personality theory and the history of psychology (this is also linked on the schedule).

The Wikipedia pages on Carl Jung and Jungian Archetypes are both quite useful, especially their bibliographies.

Trickster tales appear in many cultures and in many guises: Odysseus and Hermes among the Greeks, Loki in Scandinavia, Raven and Coyote among Native Americans, and Anansi (who originated in West Africa and came to the United States--where we know him as Brer Rabbit--via the Caribbean) all provide rich sources for stories and new interpretations.

Lewis Hyde and other discuss the Trickter on this episode of To the Best of our Knowledge (Wisconsin Public Radio; originally broadcast September 12, 2010). Hyde's Trickster Makes This World is the best book I've ever read on any topic related to myth.

I just found this terrific page from Mexico (in Spanish) on Homer: tons of information and background on the stories and the texts. The approach is historical, using archaeological and textual evidence to shed light on the stories. It's not finished, but if it ever is it'll be really helpful.

Hero: The Archetypal Hero in Literature, Religion, and Popular Culture This is a graduate project on the hero archetype, which is not only well-designed (lots of photos), but it makes connections that will be especially interesting to folks interested in popular, contemporary heroes, such as Simba in The Lion King and Luke Skywalker in Star Wars. The Designer is Bryan Davis at Stephen F. Austin University. One of the links from this page is to a site at Berkeley which features a nice visual representation of the Hero Journey.

The Hero's Journey Designed for teachers to use in classrooms, this interactive too provides a simple outline of the hero journey (click on the images around the central figure, beginning at the top).

What Makes a Her0? This is a TED-ed talk designed for kids by Matthew Winkler, but it's short and useful.

The Mythopoeic Society has information on Tolkien and his group of friends, the Inklings, and links to abundant myth sources.

An e-text of William Morris's The Roots of the Mountains, one of the books that inspired Tolkien's Middle Earth stories. Morris essentially invented the fantasy novel, and relied heavily on his knowledge of Scandinavian myths. This is also available, along with Morris's other fantasy novels, at the Morris Online Edition.

In addition to the sources linked on the Schedule for Tolkien, Tolkien: Archetype and Word by Patrick Grant offers a lucid analysis of The Lord of the Rings in Jungian terms. A series of three illustrated lectures on Tolkien's work (as well as an interview focusing on Tolkien and Jung) is available through the Gnostic Society's pages.

Plato's Metaphors

I sometimes substitute ancient mythic cycles in this class, and one of my favorites to debunk is the "legend" of Atlantis. Here are some reputable sources if you want to pursue this topic beyond what we consider in class.

BBC History: Echoes of Plato's Atlantis

Atlantis No Way, No How, No Where by Kevin Christopher for CSICOP is a solid debunking of the efforts to claim validity for Plato's story. This guy is even more skeptical than I am; he thinks Plato made the whole thing up, while I think he may have used bits of history to add verisimilitude to his story.

Plato's Timaeus and Critias: the dialogues that inspired all the legends and misinterpretations that followed, especially in the nineteenth century.

Santorini Archaeological Sites: a portal to information and images of the Minoan sites on Thira/Santorini

Santorini (Thera): Wikipedia's article.

See also the links to Theseus and his background.

Myth and History

Gilgamesh

Annenberg Leaner's new program, Invitation to World Literature, includes a wonderful segment on Gilgamesh.

Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: MesopotamiaElectronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature ( Oxford University): Gilgamesh (prose)

A transcription of the tablets (in Cuneiform)

The Project Gutenberg eBook, An Old Babylonian Version of the Gilgamesh Epic, by Anonymous, Edited by Morris Jastrow, Translated by Albert T. Clay

Diane Thompson's Gilgamesh Study Guide--another of Prof. Thompson's excellent course pages.

BBC article on the finding of Gilgamesh's tomb

If you'd like to see where the historical Gilgamesh fits into the scheme of Mesopotamian history, see this Mesopotamian King List 2700-330 BCE, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. For even more information and superb images, search the timeline (use terms like Mesopotamia, Sumer, Gilgamesh).

If you're interested in information on the role of women in Mesopotamia, see this page from the Women in World History curriculum.

Sumerian Mythology FAQ--lots of background. See also the Assyro-Babylonian Mythology FAQ.

Stephen Mitchell's new translation of Gilgamesh, with an extensive introduction, is available at local bookstores or through online sellers like Amazon.

Theseus

Interpretations

Charles Kingsley's (1819-1875) version of the story, How Theseus Slew the Minotaur

"Myth Man's" Theseus page This guy is hilarious; he's apparently a Greek restaurateur with a weird sense of design and a lot of time on his hands. His "Homework Help Center" has links and info on all kinds of Greek gods, heroes, and history. You'll have to locate the "Homework Help" page, then look for the Greek Heroes section and finally Theseus, but it'll be worth the trouble.

Heroes of the Quest, Part III, Chapter III by Padraic Colum (18811972): Theseus and the Minotaur Colum was a pretty good storyteller, and this is his version of the myth. Parts I through VI are the sections that tell of Theseus's life from birth through the events on Crete.

Mary Renault's book, The King Must Die, covers the same territory, but it's a terrific read and rather more modern, even though it was written in the '50s. You can probably pick up a copy at Half Price Books for a couple of bucks. Note: we now have a copy of this book in the Kelley Library--great read. Also, there's a sequel (The Bull from the Sea) that tells what happens after Theseus leaves Ariadne and Crete behind.

Historical and archaeological background

Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Crete

Minoan Crete

Related to the Theseus story (Daedalus built the Labyrinth):

Myth into Reality: The Metamorphosis of Daedalus and Icarus by Marjorie Hoefmans. The quoted text is in Latin, but even if you don't feel like going out and learning it, there's some good information in here. (As of the last update, this site may no longer be available; until I know whether or not it's gone for good, I'll leave the link.)

For some background, see this Lecture on Ovid's Metamorphoses, by Ian Johnson. There's also a good bibliography at the end. The essay is long, but reads quickly and you'd be amazed at how much you can learn about ancient Roman life and how Ovid fits into the picture.

Rolphe Humphries' translation from Metamorphoses

Another translation comes from the Perseus Project, edited by Brookes More. Perseus is a hugely popular and useful (and authoratative) site, so it may load slowly.

"Myth Man's" Icarus and Daedalus page (include Thomas Bulfinch's version of the text and lots of images)

Wolhee Choe, "The Fall of Icarus and Re-imagining Technology" (a rather long but interesting essay on the metaphorical and philosophical value of the myth)

Information and resources for other mythic traditions (for primary texts and commentary, see the Texts and Readings page)

Arthur

The Camelot Project is a comprehensive site on Arthur and related material.

Arthuriana is an online scholarly journal devoted to Arthur studies. The "Teaching" page has links to educational sources.

Grail lore: links to pages about the grail and grail quests.

Mythical Quest: In Search of Adventure, Romance, and Enlightenment: from the British Library's collection of manuscripts of Mallory's works. These are least for reading than for viewing--unless you've got some Latin, Medieval French, etc. in your linguistic backpack. The illuminations are frequently lovely and inspiring.

The Sword and the Grail: Restoring the Forgotten Archetype in Arthurian Myth, by John Adcox (2004). An interesting article by a writer (as he says, an enthusiast, not a scholar) that discusses some of the issues we're dealing with.

The Mabinogion, translated by Lady Charlotte Guest (Project Gutenberg). This is a bit stilted, but a standard retelling of this cylce of Wesh stories related to Arthuriana. For background on the stories, see "What is the Mabinogion" from Celtic Studies Resources.

Myth and Cultural Identity

India

Exploring Ancient World Cultures: India 

Sources of Indian Traditions (Prof. Frances Pritchett, Columbia University)

Legend and History of Ancient India from the Gateway to India page.

Because, as with Christianity and other world religions, the myths and figures of Hindu tradition are inextricable from the belief system, see this page on The Heart of Hinduism for background on the faith.

Scandinavia

Encyclopedia Mythica's page on Norse Mythology can lead you to further resources; click on "available articles" for a list on characters you can look up. The "principle gods" link provides a genealogical chart.

Donald A. Mackenzie's classic (1912) treatise, Teutonic Myth and Legend: An Introduction to the Eddas & Sagas, Beowulf, The Nibelungenlied, etc. (from Sacred Texts).

Germanic Myths, Legends, and Sagas includes sources for most Scandinavian stories.

Here's a Wikipedia page that maps the influence of Norse myths (and others) on Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. The documentation is pretty solid, and there are links in the footnotes to some of the scholarly sources.

Excerpts from the Prose Edda

William Morris's translation of the Volsung Saga from the Morris Online Edition (the second link is to his other translations).

China

Spirits of Chinese Religion, from Donald S. Lopez, Jr , Religions of China in Practice, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996). A long article that covers the major Chinese religions.

Review of The Emperor and the Assassin that discusses its historical accuracy.

Review of Hero that discusses Zhang Yimou's take on the same story.

The First Emperor of Qin: Between Legend, Science, and Nationalism (PDF) by Brian Miller. This is a thorough essay with a good analysis of the relationships between history and legend as they apply to early dynastic China.

Myths and Legends from China, on a Chinese cultural page.

Stories to Read and Tell: China links to several stories--including a variant on the Cinderella theme, and one contemporary with the Qin dynasty ("The Journey of Meng"). The page is a littel goofy, but the stories are reasonably told.

For background and geographical information on ancient China, see the British Museum exhibits.

American Southwest

Singing Desert is a site devoted to rock art, that uses a variety of visual media (paintings, photography, historical images) to illustrate the relationship between cosmology and imagery among native peoples of the desert southwest.

National Park Service Museum Collections: Chaco Culture National Historical Park features wonderful old photos and solid information on the park, including a useful chronology in .pdf.

See also the developing resources for my Humanities pages on Aztlan (ancient Americas; under construction as of January 2015).

Other Stuff

Maya

My Humanities course page on the Maya has some good sources linked, fairly recently updated.

Beauty/Beast stories

Several to look at: The Most Pleasant and Delectable Tale of the Marriage of Cupid and Psyche. From Books IV to VI of The Golden Ass, by Lucius Apuleius [2nd Cent. A.D.], trans. by William Adlington [1566]. This old but amusing translation is from a Chaucer page, because of its relationship to "The Clerk's Tale" in Canterbury Tales; Comparing Tam Lin to Cupid and Psyche ("Tam Lin" is an English ballad--my favorite version is by the group, Fairport Convention): this site offers further information on all three stories at the end of the article. Don't forget (if you did indeed already know) that Mononoke Hime--Princess Mononoke--was originally (pre-Miyazaki) one of many Japanese Beauty/Beast stories (along with the Crane Wife and others; here you can preview a beautiful edition of The Crane Wife, retold by Odds Bodkin and illustrated by Gennady Spirin). The Annotated Beauty and the Beast contains some useful information on symbols and motifs.

Creation Myths: Myths of the Creation of the World from a variety of sources.

As always, more to come . . .

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01.08.15