HUMS 630
Creation Narratives

Karen Anderson

06/28/2004 - 08/11/2004
Monday & Wednesday 06:00 PM - 08:30 PM

Fisk Hall 412

Syllabus

Required Texts
 
Catherine Attla, SITSIY YUGH NOHOLNIK TS'IN: AS MY GRANDFATHER TOLD IT (Alaska Nataive Language Center, 1983)

Margret Berger, ed., trans., HILDEGARD OF BINGEN: ON NATURAL PHILOSOPHY AND MEDICINE SELECTIONS FROM CAUSE ET CURE (Boydell & Brewer, 1999)

Marc de Civrieux, Watunna:  An Orinoco Creation Cycle (North Point Press, 1980) This text is out of print and used copies ($6 each) will be distributed in class.

Mircea Eliade, THE MYTH OF THE ETERNAL RETURN: OR, COSMOS AND HISTORY (Princeton University Press, reprint; originally published 1954)

Bruce Lincoln, THEORIZING MYTH: NARRATIVE, IDEOLOGY, AND SCHOLARSHIP (University of Chicago Press, 2000)

John Milton, PARADISE LOST, ed. Merritt Hughes (Prentice Hall, 2003)

Richard Nelson, MAKE PRAYERS TO THE RAVEN: A KOYUKON VIEW OF THE NORTHERN FOREST (University of Chicago Press, 1986)

Patrick Olivelle (translator), UPANISADS (Oxford World's Classics Series; Oxford University Press, 1998)

Lawrence Sullivan, ICANCHU'S DRUM: AN ORIENTATION TO THE MEANING IN SOUTH AMERICA RELIGIONS (originally published by Macmillan in 1988, any edition will do).  This book is out of print, but multiple copies are for sale, used, online:
www.half.com has listings between $8 and $27; to view the listings, click here.
www.barnesandnoble.com sells this used and has over 15 copies, starting at $14; to view, click here.
www.amazon.com sells used copies, with 11 listed, starting at $7; to view, click here.

Most of the required texts are available used at low prices, from online vendors:
www.half.com is a great resource for low-price used academic books
www.barnesandnoble.com does offer used books for out of print listings.
www.amazon.com offers used book sales; some are listed at relatively low prices

In addition to these books, additional required and optional readings will be distributed as photocopied hand-outs in class.  A bibliography of additional readings in the subject is given at the end of this document.

Course Policies, Requirements, & Grades
 
Course Policies
Please understand that this section of the syllabus is written to provide clarity and to help students and the instructor deal with worst case scenarios.  My approach to teaching assumes that you are motivated, engaged, and responsible.

The Honor Code
Here is the simple version of the honor code:  all students must write their own papers and cite their sources formally.  The full text of Wesleyan's honor code is available here.  Plagiarism is its own punishment, for by it you will not learn to write; the only way any of us learn to write is by writing our own paragraphs, sentence after sentence, toward a conclusion.  Needless to say, violations of the University's academic and non-academic standards of conduct will meet with sanction.

Attendance Policy
All students are required to attend class and participate in class discussions. A student may miss one class without penalty if the student writes a three-page response paper about the assigned reading for that class meeting, in addition to any other written assignment due.  A student may miss a second meeting of the course without penalty if the student writes a a three-page response paper about the assigned reading for that class meeting, in addition to any other written assignment due AND meets with the instructor in advance of the next meeting of the class, to discuss the texts and issues studied for the second missed class.  For a student who does not complete the above work, or for a student who misses a third class, the final course grade will be reduced by one half increment, i.e., A to A-.  For a student who misses a fourth class, the final grade will be reduced by a full increment, i.e., B+ to C+.  A student who misses five or more class meetings will not earn credit for the course and would be encouraged to withdraw. 

Writing Assignments
Students are responsible for two 4-page essays and one final 12-15 page research paper which may draw from one of the earlier essays. 

Late Paper Policy
Late submission of 4-page essays is strongly discouraged, and will be penalized by a reduction in grade of one half increment for every day (actual day of the week, not class day) during which the paper is late (medical exemptions will be considered).  Late submission of the final paper requires submission of an incomplete request form accompanied by documentation demonstrating personal or family calamity.

Final Course Grade
Class attendance and participation:  required
(does not add to grade, but lack of positive attendance will reduce final grade)
First 4-page essay (due Monday, July 12):  25%
Second 4-page essay (due Monday, July 26):  25%
Final paper (due Monday, August 16):  50%

Each 4-page essay is due in class at the beginning of class on their respective due dates. The final paper is due Monday, August 16, 2004, by 5:00 PM; this may be turned in at the GLSP office or sent to the instructor as an MS Word e-mail attachment.  Students should give the instructor a self-addressed, stamped envelope if they wish to have their papers mailed to them with comments.

About the essays & the final research paper:  to be discussed in class

 

Course Schedule
Note: Please read the June 28th assignment in advance of the first class meeting.
Monday, June 28 On Myth: 
A., Thanksgiving and the myth of the origin of the American nation (vs. state);
B., Mythos vs. Logos:  the pre-Platonic view of myth as true speech

Readings:
Required: Bruce Lincoln, Theorizing Myth, pp. 3-18
Recommended: Bruce Lincoln, Theorizing Myth, pp. 19-43

Wednesday,
June 30
Creation and the logic of natural order:  The Orinoco Watunna narrative cycle

Readings: Marc de Civrieux, Watunna:  An Orinoco Creation Cycle, pp. 1-86

Looking for more information about this text?  Click below to download supplemental sources about this text:
Heatherly Bucher, "The Act of Storytelling and Gender Dynamics in "Kaweshawa": A Study of the Watunna, the Makritare Creation Myth" in Telling Stories:  Essays on American Indian Literatures and Cultures (New York:  Peter Lang, 2001).

Lawrence Sullivan, book review of Watunna, in New Scholar, vol. 10:  Voices of the First America, Text and Context in the New World

Wednesday,
July 7
Creation and the logic of social order:  The Orinoco Watunna narrative cycle

Readings: Marc de Civrieux, Watunna:  An Orinoco Creation Cycle, pp. 87-173

Monday,
July 12
South American mythology:  theory and practice of interpretation

Readings: Lawrence Sullivan, Icanchu's Drum, pp. 24-110

Essay Due:  First 4-page Essay due in class, at beginning of class
 

Wednesday,
July 14
Grandfather Raven and the origin of all things:  Alaskan Athabaskan creation

Readings: Catherine Attla, As My Grandfather Told It:  whole book.

Monday,
July 19
Daily life and the influence of creation narratives in Athabaskan Alaska

Readings: Richard K, Nelson, Make Prayers to the Raven, pp. 1-120

Wednesday,
July 21
Northwest coast/Southeastern Alaskan mythology: theory and practice of interpretation

Readings: Claude Levi-Strauss, "Asdiwal," hand-out
 

Monday,
July 26
The Myth of the Eternal Return

Readings: Mircea Eliade, The Myth of the Eternal Return, pp. 3-92.

Essay Due:  Second 4-page essay due in class, at beginning of class
 

Wednesday,
July 28
Creation and cosmology in the Hindu Upanisads

Readings: Patrick Olivelle, Upanisads; read these sections:
In Olivelle's introduction: "Vedic Rituals," Vedic Cosmologies," Human Physiology and Psychology," and "Cosmic Connections." 
In Brhadaranyaka Upanisad: Adhyaya 1; Adhyaya 6.2. 
In Chandogya Upanisad:  Adhyaya 5.3-6.16. 
In Aitareya Upanisad: Adhyaya 1-3 (whole Upanisad). 
In Kausitaki Upanisad:  Adhyaya 1. 
In Prasna Upanisad:  Adhyaya 1-6 (whole Upanisad).

Monday,
August 2
The uses of creation narratives:  Germany, Britain, and the invention of the Indo-European Ursprache (original language)

Readings:
Required: Bruce Lincoln, Theorizing Myth, pp. 47-100
Recommended: Bruce Lincoln, Theorizing Myth, pp. 101-159

Wednesday,
August 4
Interpreting Genesis:  the origin and treatment of illness

Required Readings: 
Hildegard Of Bingen: On Natural Philosophy and Medicine, Selections from Cause et Cure, pp. 23-56
Genesis, chapters 1-3, hand-out

Recommended Readings:
Hildegard Of Bingen: On Natural Philosophy and Medicine, Selections from Cause et Cure, pp. 69-98

 

Monday,
August 9
Interpreting Genesis: human will and disobedience

Readings:  John Milton, Paradise Lost, pp. TBA; Mary Nyquist, "The Genesis of Gendered Subjectivity in the Divorce Tracts and in Paradise Lost," in Critical Essays on John Milton, ed. Christopher Kendrick (G.K. Hall, 1995), pp. 165-193 (handout).

Monday, August 16 Final paper due no later than 5 PM.  Paper may be turned in at the GLSP office or sent to the instructor as an MS Word e-mail attachment.  Students should give the instructor a self-addressed, stamped envelope if they wish to have their papers mailed to them with comments.
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