courses > 2009 fall

Elective Courses

CINE 106 - Mythology and the Movies

ANTH 160
401 | TR 10:30am-12pm

Myths are powerful symbolic stories that all humans use to interpret the worlds they live in. Traditional myths contain accounts of supernatural events and experiences and tell fantastic and imaginative stories of creations, hero quests, gods, monsters and natural disasters. These stories are enacted in important rituals and when told in social gatherings they are used to teach the most important concepts of a culture. The power of mythmaking is evident in the persistence of these traditional tales and the uses they have had through history. This course will examine the idea that today's blockbuster Hollywood movies carry out the same role that traditional myths did. Using theories from mythological and anthropological studies, the course analyzes popular movies and the use we make of them in our everyday lives. These contemporary myths will be examined using structural and motif analysis as well as interpretive strategies that consider mythic themes, symbols, concepts of kin and other, narrative, and relationships between myth and reality. The class also examines elements of fan culture as a form of mythic reenactment and the class members help design and participate in a public event staged at the Penn Museum that is based on mythology and the movies (in 2007 the event was Harry Potter and the Magical Muggle Museum).