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Research Project Overview

The research project is designed to carry you beyond the assigned readings, into an area of mythology that will be an extension of the main course work. I would suggest that you begin your study with one of the myths or myth topics in our book, but be prepared to go further. Ultimately, no matter what topic you choose to research, I would like you to make connections with what we have done in class.

Your first step in this essay unit will be to choose a topic and do some research on your chosen myth-related topic. The Osterlin Library Online Mythology Guide is a great resource, not just for this assignment but also for the coursework as a whole. This assignment sheet discusses a required research proposal paper due for submission at the end of week 5. Note: we will be using the MLA style of citation (as you have learned in ENG 111 and ENG 112). You will compose a short (~750 word) proposal with a few sources cited in MLA style and annotated as per the sample linked below. Then, you will continue your research and turn in a formal annotated bibliography of ten to fifteen strong academic sources related to different aspects of your research question in Week 9. Then, you will complete an essay of 1800-2000 words typed and double spaced which is due in Week 15 with an optional draft workshop in Week 12.

There are many ways to approach this course project. For example, you may select your myth topic on the basis of geographical region – Africa, for example, or Mexico. Perhaps you are especially interested in types of myths -creation myths, fertility myths, or hero myths, for example. Another approach is to pursue a particular academic discipline on your chosen myth, for example anthropology, sociology, psychology, history, archaeology or religion. A fourth approach is to concentrate on a particular person who has been important in the world of myth research and theory – Carl Jung or Joseph Campbell, for instance. Lastly, you may choose to read an extended work by a single author, as a starting point which expands on a particular topic and leads outward to further myth connections, as in Bruce Chatwin?s Songlines, about Australian aborigines.

Whatever the reason for your choice, you must be prepared to spend some time with your selection, and make it your own over the course of the semester as you become an expert on this topic. Remember to make connections to our class work in your research, and to your own human experience as well. Since myths speak to human experience beyond the cultures that gave birth to them, their relevance persisting over millennia, it should not be too difficult to find those connections. And, if your project arises from your genuine interests and your readings, it should be successful.

Examples of research which arise from Unit One would include descent stories, erotic symbolism in myth, fertility cults, early matriarchal societies, the notion of the underworld, flood myths, creation myths, etc. Any theme that you see cropping up in more than one myth is a place to start. You could look at how myths mirror the social structures of their given societies, or how myth influences philosophy of a culture, etc. You are not limited to topics from Unit 1, but you should choose a topic that is covered at least in passing in our textbook–even if that chapter is not on the schedule. For example, if you are very interested in the intersection of Biblical stories and myth, you might choose to start this unit by reading the chapter, ?The Myths of Canaan?.

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