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How to Read Literature Like a Professor Chapters 7 - 9

Date of publication: 2017-08-30 20:37

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Enrollment Limitation: two English courses, one of which is English 6A, with a minimum grade
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THE GOLDEN ASS OF APULEIUS - B. Slade

Part of human nature is our attempt to explain things we cannot understand. People want to fill in gaps in knowledge that can't be rationally answered through experimentation and observation. Because we can't use logic to explain such situations, however, the alternative becomes the development of a mythological explanation, using supernatural beings or powers or events to provide the explanation that is unavailable otherwise. I choose to look on myths as indications of human creativity and the deep need to introduce faith in something greater than ourselves into our existence. We all desire order in our lives - myths help to provide it in situations where no other explanation is apparent.

SparkNotes: Grendel: Themes, Motifs & Symbols

Great Goblin rushes towards Thorin but the lights go out and white sparks begin to burst, burning holes in the goblins. A sword flashes and kills the Great Goblin, and then a voice says follow me quick. Bilbo and the others follow Gandalf but he Goblins are in close pursuit and Dori is grabbed from behind. Bilbo falls into blackness, bumps his head on a hard rock and remembers nothing more.

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The adventure surrounds an old dwarf-map that depicts a mountain, in which a dragon named Smaug lives. Smaug has stolen hordes of treasure and these hordes must be reclaimed. It is up to Bilbo Baggins to find a way to sneak into the mountain. Of course, there is an incredibly dangerous terrain separating Hobbiton from Smaug s mountain and this is most of the challenge. The head of the assembled dwarves is Thorin and he is eager to reclaim the lost glories of his race. When Bilbo finally heads to bed, he is not at all pleased with the formidable challenge that stands before him.

This course surveys the historical and cultural development of children's literature and includes critical approaches and the examination of shared themes that cross cultural and geographical boundaries.  Students read both classic and contemporary works spanning cultures and time periods and reflect on the significance of a genre written specifically for children. 

In the case of the Bible, specifically, this recollection and attempt to draw in the past to the present has implications other than nostalgia because of the very religious nature of this text. In other words, a biblical reference might be an affirmation of the messages and lessons brought down by the Prophets and sages of old. It can also be a subtle acknowledgement of the Divine and the variety of ways in which images, stories, and characters are used are indicative of how religion is constantly negotiated and reworked not just by communities and periods but also by individuals and characters.

Myths entertain, of course.  In ancient cultures, myths were used to explain natural phenomenon.  For example, most cultures have a creation myth about how the world came into existance.  So myths have always existed.  Modern myths are often built around people, as in the above example.

If you want to be cynical about things, you can say that the role of myths is to validate the way that the society is.  Myths that we are told are (you can argue) meant to make us believe that the status quo is the way things ought to be.  In this view, societies use myths to justify their existence and to make the claim that they are living in the way that they are supposed to live.

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