The particular purpose of this assignment is to get you to analyze a “mythic dismantling” (a la Ovid) from your own culture in the same way we analyze classical myths (and certain of their current counterparts) in this course. The assignment is called a lab report because I want to encourage you to see the places where stories get told (movie theaters, living rooms, sports arenas) as a kind of laboratory for our study of myth.
To this end, you are encouraged especially to explore the possibilities of movies, TV, popular music, and video-games. Nevertheless, as long as your example was originally produced after 1940, it will be acceptable. If you have an example you’re dying to do that’s earlier, e-mail me and we’ll discuss it. If you do not communicate with me, and use a myth from outside this date-range, you will lose ten points.
For this assignment, you need to find a “mythic dismantling.” In general, if you find a story pretending to be a myth but still being funny, you’re looking at a mythic dismantling. General parodies and satires like “Scary Movie” and “Police Academy,” as well as more obvious candidates like “Space Balls” and “Monty Python and the Life of Brian” are candidates that might get you started.
In order to complete the assignment, execute the following steps:
1. Find an example of a current myth. As long as you find that example to express cultural truth-value, it will do fine. Note that the myth may be a single episode of a TV show, a single song, or a single quest, scenario, or level of a larger game, or it may be a longer sort of narrative.
2. Write a one-to-two paragraph summary of the myth, as if for someone (me) who hasn’t seen it, heard it, or played it. This summary does not count towards the word-count of number 3. This part of the assignment is essential. It is not to be copied from other sources, and copying any part of it from other sources, including your own previous papers, without attribution IS PLAGIARISM. Even should you cite the work of others, including yoursef, not writing an original summary for your lab report will cost you twenty points, because framing the story you will analyze properly for the analysis you intend to carry out is an essential skill that this course hopes to teach. Therefore, DO NOT RE-USE A SUMMARY FROM A PREVIOUS REPORT UNLESS YOU ARE WILLING TO LOSE TWENTY POINTS.
3. Write a 500-750 word analysis of the myth as an expression of cultural truth-values in comparison to classical myths covered in this course. There’s no right or wrong way to write this analysis, and it doesn’t have to sound like a regular paper, though analyses that sound like regular papers will have an easier time being successful. Above all, remember that the truth-values of myth are cultural, and not personal. That is, you must be analyzing your myth as an expression of things that your society holds to be true, rather than things that just you hold to be true. Obviously, in many cases, the truth-values of your society will be your own trurth-values as well, but the same is most definitely not true in reverse, because there are many things that we hold to be true as individuals that may not be the same as what others in our society believe. (For the sake of thoroughness, also note that there may be truth-values that your society holds which you don’t hold, and it’s perfectly acceptable to analyze your myth as an expression of those.)
4. Your classical comparison must include material from the course readings and lectures of the current module. At the end of your analysis, please list in very brief form (“proper” citation isn’t necessary) the material you have cited from the current module’s materials in 1) one or more of the primary readings other than Odyssey or Metamorphoses, and/or one or more of the Wikipedia articles, 2) Odyssey or Metamorphoses, and 3) the lectures (basic video lectures, supplements, or notes are all acceptable). Each of those categories carries three points, which you will not get without citing material from it, from the current module.
Turn the report in via HuskyCT, in the Module 4 Lab Report Assignment, by attaching a document. See the course schedule for due dates.
Your assignment will be scored out of 100, and will count for 5.71% of your final grade.
Successful lab reports:
1) Show that you understand the course definition of myth as narrative expression of cultural truth-value.
2) Use your knowledge of the reading and lectures from the current module to make comparisons of modern and ancient myth.
3) Analyze myths, both ancient and modern, as expressions of cultural truth-value.
4) Compare ancient myths to modern ones based on their truth-values.
5) Present detailed argument about specific moments in modern and ancient myths.
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