Great Mythologies of the World : The Great Courses: World Literature

  • by The Great Courses
  • Narrated by Professor Grant L. Voth, Professor Julius H. Bailey, Professor Kathryn McClymond, Professor Robert André LaFleur
  • Series: The Great Courses: World Literature
  • 31 hrs and 35 mins
  • Lecture

Publisher's Summary

The deep-seated origins and wide-reaching lessons of ancient myths built the foundation for our modern legacies. Explore the mythologies of Europe, the Americas, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Learn what makes these stories so important, distinctive, and able to withstand the test of time. Discover how, despite geographical implausibilities, many myths from across the oceans share themes, morals, and archetypes.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Three Fantastic Lecturers, + one iffy one.

Multi-lecturer courses are always prone to fluctuations in quality… But 3 out of 4 ain't bad!

Kathryn McClymond covers the myths of ancient Europe, the Middle East, and South Asia. Her lectures are fantastic, offering a good balance of storytelling and interpretation. She tells the stories, then uses them to construct a coherent cosmology of each culture, so you get a sense of their view of the real world and of the cosmos. It's also nice to have a woman's perspective on this stuff; history is still so male dominated, and she calls due attention to the sexism inherent in a lot of the myths, and what it says about the relevant culture.

After her, Julius Bailey, who covers African myths, is a letdown. African myth is a huge subject, so his task is difficult. But he chooses to organize his myths by topic, NOT by culture, so it's impossible to get that sense of a coherent cosmology for any one culture. He's also not a good orator; he trips over the emphasis of every third sentence.

Andre LaFleur's lectures on Asian and Pacific myths picks things right up again though. He provides a good balance of story and interpretation, and he steers clear of the typical pitfalls of a white guy teaching "foreign" cultures -- avoiding essentialism, or romanticizing the role of Westerners in documenting the material, for instance.

Grant Voth's lectures on Native American myths are some of the best of the pack, even though -- according to his CV in the PDF -- he doesn't seem to have any formal experience with the topic. His task is like Bailey's, but he organizes his lectures by broad regions wherein there is a common mythic tradition (with variations), and so it's possible to get a sense of each culture -- or family of cultures, if you will -- and their cosmology.

All in all, I recommend it -- you're bound to learn a lot.
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- Christopher

mostly awesome

The sections on European, Asian, and Native American mys were awesome. I could tell that the scholars had really spent a significant amount of time to organize the lectures into a cohesive and comprehensible course. The section on African myths needs development - I liked what I learned of the stories, themselves, but the course was significantly lacking in organization and attempting to connect the themes into larger issues of relevance. my favorite section was on Native American myths. It was obvious that the scholar had spent a lifetime researching and teaching these stories. The way these were presented stands in marked contrast to the these-are-some-cool-things-I've learned-about approach of the African myths.
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- Dan

Book Details

  • Release Date: 08-21-2015
  • Publisher: The Great Courses