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Course, academic year 2023/2024
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Mythology in Popular Culture - AET101001
Title: Mythology in Popular Culture
Guaranteed by: Department of Ethnology and Central European and Balkan Studies (21-UESEBS)
Faculty: Faculty of Arts
Actual: from 2023 to 2023
Semester: winter
Points: 0
E-Credits: 6
Examination process: winter s.:
Hours per week, examination: winter s.:2/1, Ex [HT]
Capacity: unlimited / unlimited (24)
Min. number of students: unlimited
4EU+: no
Virtual mobility / capacity: no
Key competences:  
State of the course: taught
Language: Czech
Teaching methods: full-time
Teaching methods: full-time
Note: course can be enrolled in outside the study plan
enabled for web enrollment
Guarantor: PhDr. Katharine Kimberly
doc. PhDr. Petr Janeček, Ph.D.
Teacher(s): PhDr. Katharine Kimberly
Class: Exchange - 08.9 Others-Humanities
Exchange - 14.7 Anthropology
Exchange - 14.9 Others-Social Sciences
Annotation - Czech
This course will examine and analyze various popular culture products and how they incorporate, reinforce, challenge and/or reinforce cultural mythology at the foundation of human society. Familiarizing themselves with the work of Riane Eisler, Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Joseph Campbell and other mythographers, students will develop an understanding of mythology, and how popular art (literature, music, film, television, visual art, social media, et al) both reflects and influences our understanding of the mythologies under which we live.
Last update: Jakoubková Budilová Lenka, doc. Mgr., Ph.D. (04.05.2023)
Aim of the course - Czech

Students will learn the role of myth in creating and defining society, as well as to identify and analyze myths across a variety of cultures and artistic genre/media. The course will focus particularly on cultural artifacts that challenge, refute or redefine myths of the dominant paradigm. Although many cultural artifacts to be discussed come from Western culture, students are encouraged to research myths from other cultural traditions.

Discussions within this framework include context from philosophical, historical, political and artistic perspectives.

Documentaries and other visual materials, field trips and guest speakers are a part of this course.

Learning Outcomes:

At the conclusion of this course, students should be able to:

  • Explain the role of mythology in influencing society & culture and identify common archetypes and universal myths.
  • Analyze the role of myth in popular art and how contemporary artifacts reinforce, challenge, and/or redefine the dominant paradigm.
  • Identify and articulate the underlying mythology in contemporary art & artifacts.
  • Formulate and evaluate how various human interpretations of mythology have changed and evolved throughout human society.
  • Articulate the relation of mythology to their own lives and chosen disciplines.
Last update: Jakoubková Budilová Lenka, doc. Mgr., Ph.D. (04.05.2023)
Course completion requirements - Czech

Course Requirements and Evaluation:


1.      Class participation 10%: In the class discussions use the concepts and terms from the readings and lectures. Bring in your observations.

2.      Journal Reactions & Analysis 20%: Responses to weekly readings, lectures and presentations; can be hard-copy paper journal or video, online, or webpage form.

3.      Group Presentation 20%: Form groups during the first class and prepare a 20-25 minute presentation about the topic of the week. Presentation can be Power Point, video, vlog, performance, or many other forms—see me for approval if not one of these.

·         Must include 1000 word exegesis with references and bibliography in MLA format

·         Must include visual and/or other artistic elements (music, film, etc)

4.      Final Portfolio 40%: Creative responses or written analyses to/of 8-10 of topics discussed (or other by consultation/permission)

·         Poem, painting, song, video, video game, vlog, sculpture, collage, performance, or essay of 1000-2000 words (shorter is better) in MLA format

5.      Other 10%: Quizzes, other minor assessment



100 – 96 % A

95 – 90 % A -

89 – 87 % B +

86 – 83 % B

82 – 80 % B -

79 – 76 % C +

75 – 70 % C

69 – 60 % C -

59 – 0 % F



Attendance of classes is mandatory. One unexcused week of classes is tolerated, and it will not affect a final class grade. Student absence is excused only on the presentation of a medical document. Students deliver this document to the ISA Resident Director who informs CU Academic coordinator. In case of more than one week of unexcused absences, student’s final grade in the class will be automatically lowered by one step on the grading scale: one absence for each step on the grading scale.


Reading Material: Some included in class schedule; a more comprehensive list will be developed and provided for students before the class begins.

Last update: Jakoubková Budilová Lenka, doc. Mgr., Ph.D. (04.05.2023)
Literature - Czech


Bear-Tibbs, TM. “Female Fantasists: Re-visioning the Archetypal Warrior”.

Campbell, J and B. Moyers. The Power of Myth. [many versions, including a book and the documentary series; copies and other links will be made available].

Campbell, J. The Hero with a Thousand Faces: Commemorative edition with introduction by Clarissa Pinkola Estes.,%20Commemorative%20Edition%20%282004%29.pdf

Campbell, J. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. [PDF; free download]

Campbell, JR. “Hobbits, Elves, Dwarves, and Men/Women: The Politics and IR of Lord of the Rings”.

de Marques, EM. “Children of Oryx, Children of Crake, Children of Men: Redefining the Post/Transhuman in Margaret Atwood’s “ustopian” MaddAddam Trilogy”.'s_ustopian_MaddAddam_Trilogy

Estes, CP. Women Who Run With the Wolves.

Faramelli, A. “Liberation On and Off Screen: Black Panther and Black Liberation Theory”.;view=fulltext

Frauenfelder, D. “Popular Culture and Classical Mythology”.

Gordon, A. “Star Wars: A Myth for Our Time”.

Govan, S. “The Parable of the Sower as rendered by Octavia Butler: Lessons for our Changing times”.

Gregory, C. “Mythos and logos: Star Trek as mythic narrative”.

Hirschman, EC. “Legends in Our Own Time: How Motion Pictures and Television Shows Fulfill the Functions of Myth”.

“Jonathan Young on Joseph Campbell, A Scholar’s Life”. [a lay-version/simplified version of the Four Functions of Myth, to be expounded upon & discussed in class]

Kimberly, K. “’I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’: The Reinterpretation of Mythology in the Works of U2”. E-copy to be provided to students.

Korkecki, L. “The Runa and Female Otherness in Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow”. Ecofeminist Science Fiction.

Martikke, S. “Back to the Future: Memory and Wholeness in Alice Walker's The Temple of My Familiar".

Piercy, M. He, She and It (UK title Body of Glass). Speculative fiction about humanizing an android with parallel chapters about the Prague Golem.

Puckto, T. “Archetypes in The Lord of the Rings, Narnia and Harry Potter”.

Reid, J. “Mythological Representations in popular culture today”.

Searson, H. “Star Wars and The Hero with a Thousand Faces”

Smith, BR. “We Need a Hero: African American Female Bildungsromane and Celie’s Journey to Heroic Female Selfhood in Alice Walker’s The Color Purple”.

Stoops, RM. “Game of Thrones: Ser Brienne of Tarth and a Feminine Reinterpretation of Classical Heroes”.

Vogler, C. “Joseph Campbell goes to the movies: The influence of the hero’s journey in film narrative”.'s_Journey_as_an_Assessment_Tool_for_Hip_Hop_Songs_Created_in_Music_Therapy/links/5d8baf23299bf10cff0e714f/From-Orphan-to-Sage-The-Heros-Journey-as-an-Assessment-Tool-for-Hip-Hop-Songs-Created-in-Music-Therapy.pdf#page=15

Last update: Jakoubková Budilová Lenka, doc. Mgr., Ph.D. (16.05.2023)
Syllabus - Czech

Introduction to Course: Syllabus, learning outcomes, assessment

The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell, with Bill Moyers

“The Power of Myth” PBS documentary series (available on YouTube & other platforms):

Campbell: History and background

Series by Bill Moyers

The Hero-Quest Myth

Classical Heroes & characteristics

Heracles, Odysseus, et al


Arthurian legend

George Lucas, Star Wars & The Hero with A Thousand Faces

Star Wars:

Star Trek:

Creation & Origin Myths



Fables/Just-so Stories

Maui & Aotearoa

Mucha’s Slavic Epic


Myth of Patriarchy: “One good man”

·         Beyond Power: Women, Men and Morals by Marilyn French

·         The Creation of Patriarchy by Gerda Lerner

Challenges to Patriarchal Myths & Tropes

·         Women, BIPOC, LGBTQI: Alternatives to white male cis-het heroes: Black Panther, The Woman King, Sense8, Xena Princess Warrior,

·         Anti-heroes:  Robin Hood, Batman, Annalise Keating, Tyrion Lannister, Tony Soprano, Omar Little, V for Vendetta/Anonymous

Goddess, Madonna & Whore/Maiden, Mother and Crone: Myths of the Feminine

Goddesses by Joseph Campbell

When God Was a Woman by Merlin Stone

The Madwoman in the Attic by Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar

The Chalice and the Blade by Riane Eisler

Myth of Happily-Ever-After: Faery tales, love songs and Rom-Coms

Women who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes

The Little Mermaid

Romeo & Juliet

Four Weddings and a Funeral

Field trip:  Opera or other theatre production

Myths of War, Peace and Liberation


The Last Battle

War mythology

Black Panther

Game of Thrones

Death and Rebirth

Ancient, Christian/Abrahamic, Other (non-Western)

Human transformation

      Human plus supernatural: Vampires, Werewolves, other supes

      Androids, replicants, Borg, etc

White Walkers, Children of the Forest, Giants, Wargs

Mythology of Magic

Witches, Wizards, Sorcerers & Mages

Harry Potter

The Magicians, et al

Conspiracy, dystopia & apocalypse: Myths of Endings/Radical change

1984, Brave New World, The Handmaid’s Tale, MaddAddam, Brazil (Gilliam film)

Mad Max, Waterworld, The Day After Tomorrow, Parable of the Sower

Sense8, Orphan Black, Stranger Things

Myths of New Beginnings: Utopias, New Age, Reclaiming/Rediscovering/Redefining

The Sparrow and Children of God by Mary Doria Russell

The Chalice and the Blade by Riane Eisler: Alternatives to dominator culture (aka patriarchy)

Last update: Jakoubková Budilová Lenka, doc. Mgr., Ph.D. (04.05.2023)
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