ENGLISH 2410  LD01 25635                       Dr. Melinda G. Kramer

Mythology, Legend, and Folklore                  Office: M3078

Fall 2010                                                         Phone: 301-322-0578

MW 1:30 - 2:45 p.m.                                       Email:  kramermg@pgcc.edu

M2062 (classroom)                                         Office hours: MW 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. and by



Required textbooks: Powell, Classical Myth, 6th ed. (Pearson, 2009).  Homer, The Iliad, Fagles translation (Penguin).  Aeschylus, The Oresteia: Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers, The Eumenides (Penguin, 1977).  Course readings packet (purchase at PGCC bookstore). You will also be responsible for viewing the films Avatar and Little Big Man.





Aug. 30  Introduction to Mythology

What is myth and why should we care? Differences between myth, legend, and folklore.

Sept. 1  Mythology Mind Mapping

The classical context: Greek geography and society

Due: CM (Classical Myth), Chapts. 1 -2

Sept. 6



Sept. 8   Comparative Mythology

Creation myths: the universe and the gods

Read Genesis 1.1 - 2.4

Due: CM, Chapt. 4; "Four Worlds" (packet)

In-class oral report groups assigned: oral reports due Mon., Sept. 27.

Sept. 13  Comparative Mythology

Creation myths: humans

Read Genesis 2.4 - 2.23

Due: "The Creation of Human Beings," pp. 4-6; "Prometheus, The Fire-Bringer," pp. 161-177 (packet)

Sept. 15     Classical Mythology

Creation myths, cont'd.

Due: CM, Chapt. 5


Sept. 20   Classical Mythology

The Olympians: Zeus and Hera -- "Take my wife… please."

Due: CM, Chapt. 6

Sept. 22     Classical Mythology

The Olympians: other male and female deities

Due: CM, Chapts. 7 - 8

Sept. 27     Classical Mythology/Legends

In-class reports from CM, Chapts. 9 - 11

9. Fertility: Demeter, Persphonê, et al

10. Fertility: Dionysus/Bacchus

11. Death & the Underworld

Sept. 29     Classical Legends in Poetry

The Trojan War: the plot

What are these people fighting about?

The roles of the gods and fate.

Due: CM, Chapt. 19; Iliad, Book 1

Oct. 4  Classical Legends in Poetry

The Trojan War: heroes & heroines; the roles of women

Due: Iliad, Book 6


Oct. 6   Classical Legends in Poetry

The Trojan War: the poetry

Themes in Homer's Iliad: love, war, jealousy, honor

Due: Iliad, Books 22, 24; CM, Chapt. 20, pp. 566 - 581. 

Oct. 11   Classical Legends in Drama

The Greek tragedy continues.

Video: “Greek Drama”

The stuff of heroes: Aeschylus's version compared to Homer's.

Due: Agamemnon, ll. 1 - 610

Oct. 13   Classical Legends in Drama

Themes in Agamemnon. 

Due: Agamemnon, ll. 611 - 1071.

Oct. 18     Classical Legends in Drama

Themes in Agamemnon, cont'd.

Due: Agamemnon, ll. 1072 - 1708; and

CM, Chapt. 20, pp. 556 - 567.

Oct. 20     Classical Legends in Drama

Agamemnon wrap-up

Oct. 25  The Heroic Pattern

Video: "The Hero's Adventure," from The Power of Myth, Joseph Campbell

Due: CM, Chapts. 12 & 14; Hero’s journey handouts

Oct. 27  Exam #1


In-class essay test over first half of semester.

Nov. 1 Norse Mythology

Cosmology & Context: Nordic geography and beliefs.  Comparison of Nordic and classical Greek mythic themes.

Due: "The Norse Myths" (packet)

Nov. 3  Folklore

Discussion of semester project and topic selection.

Folklore themes (handout).

Due: “The Princess Who. . . ,” “Butterball,” and "The Twelve Wild Ducks" (packet)

Nov. 8  Folklore

The function of folk tales

Variations of "Red Riding Hood"

Due: Red Riding Hood stories (packet).

Nov. 10  Folklore

Transformation folk tales

Due: "The Frog King" (packet)


Nov. 15  Folklore Tricksters

African and African-American folk tales

Due: "Anansi, the Clever One," pp. 7-16; "El Bizarron and the Devil" and "Wiley and the Hairy Man," pp. 321-346 (packet).

Nov. 17 Folklore Tricksters

Native American folk tales

Due: "Giant, the Fire-Bringer," pp. 364-70;  "Kokopilau" (packet)

Due: proposal for your semester project

Nov. 19, last day to withdraw from class with W.

Nov. 22  Folklore. Myth Interpretation

Folklore wrap-up. Theories of myth interp.

Due: CM, Chapt. 24, pp. 649-663

Nov. 24   NO CLASS

Thanksgiving break begins.

Field trip possible.

Nov. 29  Myth in the Modern World

Video selections: Avatar

Dec. 1 Myth in the Modern World

Video selections: Little Big Man

Dec. 6  Myth in the Modern World

Video selections: Little Big Man, wrap up.


Begin oral presentation of projects.

Dec. 8

Oral presentations cont'd. 


Due: Semester research project

Dec. 13

Final exams/last week of classes.

Optional review for final.

Dec. 15   Exam #2

Final exams/last week of classes.

Final exam: in-class essay test.  1 p.m.

The learning outcomes for EGL 2410

Students who successfully complete this course will be able to:


1.         Explain belief systems, social constructs, and literary forms (creation stories; war epics, hero stories, etc.) of various Western cultures and compare them to the beliefs, constructs, and literary forms of selected non-Western cultures such as Chinese, Indian, Native-American, and Babylonian.

2.         Explain the major mythological and folkloric genres (epic, hymns, folk-tale, etc.) and motifs of different peoples and analyze them using some theories of interpreting myth.

3.         Write analytically with adequate documentation about a topic relevant to mythology.

4.         Explain the interdisciplinary approach to mythology by using such scholarly theories as structuralism, etiological theory, etc.


If you do the assignments, attend class, and apply critical thinking skills to the material covered in both, you should achieve the course outcomes.


EGL 2410 is a lot of fun.  We will look at some of the myths, legends, and folklore that have underpinned human culture from the dawn of storytelling to the present day.  As book reviewer Michael Dirda has written in the Washington Post:


Mythology -- especially that of the Greeks and Romans -- is probably the single most important body of knowledge that anyone who wishes to understand the great art, music and literature of the West should master.  These stories, of transformations and odysseys, of rapes and rescues, pervade our culture; indeed, they are our culture.  Without them, we wouldn't have, just to mention some random instances, Yeats's "Leda and the Swan," Welty's The Golden Apples or the scores of retellings of Orpheus in the Underworld (baroque operas, Cocteau's "Orphée," the Brazilian film "Black Orpheus," Russell Hoban's novel The Medusa Frequency, etc. etc.).  Learn the ancient myths, the Old and New Testaments and the classic fairy tales, and you will be better prepared to read poems and look at paintings than half our recent liberal-arts graduates. 

                                                "Book World," Washington Post, 17 Aug. 2003, 15.


As you complete this course, you will begin to see evidence of these myths and legends everywhere -- in movies, on television, in comic strips, even in the advertising on the backs of trucks.  And it's not your imagination.  The references are there.  Although they may have changed a bit over time, the mythological sources still resonate meaningfully in the modern world.


Rules of the Road: Class Policies



reading quizzes                       10%     no makeups

two exams                               50%     no makeups

semester research project        25%

oral reports                              15%


All papers must be typed, double spaced, in standard format.  Necessary citations or documentation of sources should be in correct MLA style.  Papers lose a letter grade for each class they are late.  Papers more than two classes late will fail.  Papers containing deliberate or inadvertent plagiarism will fail, and a charge will sent to the Vice President for Student Affairs for action.  See the college Student Handbook for details.



I do not differentiate between “excused” and “unexcused” absences.  You are allowed three absences without penalty; I do not need to see a note from a doctor or anyone else.  Like sick leave at work, after your three absences are gone I will begin deducting points from your grade.  If you miss 25% percent or more of our class meetings, departmental policy permits me to fail you for the course.  If you know you are going to be absent, tell me ahead of time if possible.  You are responsible for finding out from a classmate what you missed (make friends; exchange phone numbers and email addresses).  Repeated tardiness will be figured as appropriate fractions of absences.


Classroom Decorum

No cell phones, PDAs, pagers, iPods, or earphones, please.  Turn them off and put them out of sight and out of touch.  You may not leave the classroom to answer a call.  No food of any kind.  You may bring beverages (be neat).  I expect courteous and respectful behavior toward everyone in the class.  Anyone who disrupts class a second time after being warned once can expect to receive a Charge of Student Disruption with commensurate penalties (see Student Handbook for details).


Owl Mail (PGCC email)

You must activate and regularly check your PGCC student email account – Owl Mail.  I will send email messages regarding this class to that email address only.  If you email me, I will respond to you only via your Owl Mail email address. Think of Owl Mail as your business email address – for college business with faculty, staff, and other students.  Any other email addresses you may have are for personal matters, not college business.



If you have a documented cognitive or physical disability that requires accommodation, please see me.


Honors Contracts

Students who plan to take EGL 2410 for honors credit need to meet with me well before the contract application due date to discuss contract projects.  Honors contracts mean extra out-of-class work beyond the syllabus assignments.  Contracts require my approval as well as the approval and signature of the Honors Coordinator and the Dean of Liberal Arts.  The dean reads the contracts carefully to make sure the proposed projects are worthwhile.  A proposal thrown together at the last minute is not likely to receive my approval or the dean's.


Delayed College Openings; Owl Alert Notification System

When the college announces a delayed opening, all classes with at least 45 minutes of class time remaining at the time of the opening will be held.  For example, in the event of a 10 a.m. opening, a 9:30-10:45 a.m. class will be held.  This procedure applies to all credit classes.  To sign up for text alerts such as school closings or delays and campus emergencies, log in to myPGCC from my.pgcc.edu or from www.pgcc.edu and click Owl Alert Notification System on the Bookmarks tab.  Owl Alert is the college’s instant messaging and email notification system.


Important Dates

Log in to myPGCC from my.pgcc.edu or from www.pgcc.edu for updates and announcements.


No classes – College closed – Labor Day

Saturday-Monday, September 4-6

Last day to drop a class with refund

Wednesday, September 8

Last day to change from “credit to audit” or “audit to credit” for full-semester classes

Friday, September 24

Last day to withdraw from first half-semester classes

Wednesday, October 6

Begin registration for Intersession 2011

Monday, October 25

No classes – College Enrichment Day for faculty/staff

Tuesday, October 26

Last day to withdraw from full semester classes

Friday, November 19

No classes – Start of Thanksgiving Break

Wednesday, November 24

No classes – College closed – Thanksgiving Break

Thursday-Sunday, November 25-28

Last day to withdraw from second half-semester classes

Monday, November 30

Advance registration for spring 2011


November 22-December 1

Begin open registration for spring 2011

Thursday, December 2

Final exam period/last week of fall 2010 classes

Friday-Thursday, December 10-16

Registration for Intersession ends. Spring in-person registration closes. Registration resumes Monday, January 5.

Friday, December 17

College Closed – Winter Break

Saturday-Sunday, December 19-January 4

Spring 2011 classes begin

Monday, January 24





Welcome to the world of mythology, legend, and folklore.  You’re going to enjoy it!