Importance of Motifs Assignment | Homework for You

In our readings about the gods, their births and biographies, we have seen the importance of motifs (repeated narrative patterns) in generating the particular types of stories that comprise ancient myth. In this assignment, you will look in greater depth at the function and mechanics of motifs.

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1. Brief analysis of a single motif. (length, 2-3 pages; 12 point font, lines 1.5 spaced)

This is a more traditional interpretive essay assignment in which you analyze the use of a single motif in THREE different texts. All three texts can be from the readings assigned in this course, OR you can discuss two texts from the course and one additional text be selected from your own repertoire of reading/viewing/listening (ie, outside of this class). Your analysis should consist of a brief description of each instance, followed by an interpretive analysis comparing and contrasting each instance of the motif. In the interpretive section, you may wish to ask “why is this motif used here?”, “how is the motif adapted to this particular story?”, “what similarities/differences are there between this use of the motif and the others I am discussing?”

Successful assignments will demonstrate:

1) good ENGAGEMENT WITH SPECIFICS OF EACH TEXT, including appropriate QUOTATIONS to support your claims

2) insight into common features BEYOND THE OBVIOUS

3) insight into how differences CHANGE the type of narrative the motif creates

2. Build your own mythical narrative

This is a more creative form of the assignment, in which you adapt the motifs that we have been studying to create your own mythical narrative. You will take at least ONE and no more than THREE motifs from the course readings and create your own mythical text. This may be a variation on one of the stories that we have studied, or an entirely new story built from the blocks of traditional motifs. You may undertake your story in ANY GENRE (story form), ancient or modern, that you like. IN ADDITION to your mythical narrative, you will submit a short explanatory paragraph detailing which motifs you adopted (including identification of source text) and explaining how and why you adapted them to your new narrative.

Successful assignments will demonstrate:

1) good ENGAGEMENT WITH SPECIFICS OF ANCIENT MOTIF(S)

2) reflection on how motifs can be adapted to suit new aims

3) creativity in narrative structure/presentation, including awareness of GENRE

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