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2018/19 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

ENGL3266 Folklore and Mythology

20 creditsClass Size: 40

For full module descriptions of our level 2 and 3 undergraduate modules (including details of preparatory reading, texts for purchase and required unassessed work) please see the Undergraduate Module Handbook in the English Organisation on the VLE.

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Module manager: Dr Alaric Hall
Email: a.t.p.hall@leeds.ac.uk

Taught: Semester 2 View Timetable

Year running 2018/19

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module delves into the primarily oral narrative arts which we now label ‘folktale’ and ‘myth’. Through five workshops, we’ll learn how to collect and analyse folklore in our own culture(s). Each student will do fieldwork to collect a corpus of oral texts on a topic of their choice, and analyse how the texts are composed and what their cultural functions are. Examples might include ghost stories, jokes, urban legends, personal anecdotes within traditional genres (e.g. the ‘we got so drunk that...’ or the ‘I’ve got this crazy lecturer who...’ genres), and oral histories. Our seminars will relate the experience of folklore collection in our own culture to studying folktales and myths. We’ll start by interrogating why the terms folklore and mythology were coined in the Romantic period, how people managed without them before then, and what we mean by them now, partly by analysing Sita Sings the Blues, dir. by Nina Paley (2008), an animation of part of the Indian epic the Ramayana. Over a few weeks, we’ll take a close look at creation narratives (both in the Abrahamic religions and in other traditions), before moving on to looking at heroes’ encounters with supernatural beings, starting with the Epic of Gilgamesh. We’ll trace tales of fairies from their earliest appearance in Middle Ages (including Serglige Con Chulainn ‘The wasting-sickness of Cú Chulainn’ and the Middle English Sir Orfeo), through to the Romantics’ collecting of ballads and fairy-tales (including the Finnish Kalevala). We’ll dig down into Norse mythology. And we’ll challenge a lot of the assumptions our culture imposes on us about science, knowledge, and modernity.

Objectives

- To explore two important genres of European literature (folktale and myth), from the medieval period to the present day.
- To examine how folktales are told, why they are told, and why they are studied.
- To learn to engage directly with oral narrative traditions and understand the dynamic relationship between oral and written narrative arts.

Learning outcomes
- The broad history of north-west European folktale and myth from their first attestation to the present day.
- Why and how oral narratives circulate, and how to develop a critical understanding of their cultural functions.
- Understanding and experience of the fundamental methodologies of ethnographic research.


Syllabus

This module delves into the primarily oral narrative arts which we now label ‘folktale’ and ‘myth’. Through five workshops, we’ll learn how to collect and analyse folklore in our own culture(s). Each student will do fieldwork to collect a corpus of oral texts on a topic of their choice, and analyse how the texts are composed and what their cultural functions are. Examples might include ghost stories, jokes, urban legends, personal anecdotes within traditional genres (e.g. the ‘we got so drunk that...’ or the ‘I’ve got this crazy lecturer who...’ genres), and oral histories.

Our seminars will relate the experience of folklore collection in our own culture to studying folktales and myths. We’ll start by interrogating why the terms folklore and mythology were coined in the Romantic period, how people managed without them before then, and what we mean by them now, partly by analysing Sita Sings the Blues, dir. by Nina Paley (2008), an animation of part of the Indian epic the Ramayana. Over a few weeks, we’ll take a close look at creation narratives (both in the Abrahamic religions and in other traditions), before moving on to looking at heroes’ encounters with supernatural beings, starting with the Epic of Gilgamesh. We’ll trace tales of fairies from their earliest appearance in Middle Ages (including Serglige Con Chulainn ‘The wasting-sickness of Cú Chulainn’ and the Middle English Sir Orfeo), through to the Romantics’ collecting of ballads and fairy-tales (including the Finnish Kalevala). We’ll dig down into Norse mythology. And we’ll challenge a lot of the assumptions our culture imposes on us about science, knowledge, and modernity.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Meetings51.005.00
Seminar101.0010.00
Private study hours185.00
Total Contact hours15.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Teaching will be through weekly seminars (10 x 1 hour) plus up to 5 additional hours (exploring folklore collecting and the theories and methods of study in our field). The 5 additional hours may include lectures, plenary sessions, film showings, or the return of unassessed/assessed essays.

Private Study: Reading, seminar preparation, essay writing.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

- Contribution to seminars.
- Feedback on 1,700 word assessed essay.

Methods of assessment


Coursework
Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1,700 word essay analysing folklore which you have collected yourself.33.30
Essay2,750 word essay on a module-related topic of your choosing.66.70
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

There is no reading list for this module

Last updated: 04/05/2018

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