Common Mythic Elements
Created By: Marty Sierra-Perry, Centennial High School (Champaign, IL)
- The three-zone cosmos (underworld,
earth-surface world, and sky world) also undergirds popular belief in
Western cultures (Heaven is up ).
- The basis of sacred numbers
in our own physicalness and the relationship of visual field to the
earth-surface world (4: bilateral symmetry, front/back :: N,E,S,W; 5:
cardinal directions plus Center; 7: cardinal directions, Center, Zenith,
- Cultural conceptions like
the organization of space, time,quantity, and so on.
- Theme of transformations
- Myths are about boundary-setting,
establishing distinctions, which is why they always provoke questions
about what is natural and what is cultural. At the same time, they are
dynamic, not static, representations, that portray processes as well
as forms. In short, they not only map the cultural world but dramatize
how to live in it.
The myth represents a powerful fusion of three charged topics Nature,
Culture, and Land set in motion in a progressive dynamic that moves
from separation, disorder, and marginality to a conclusion of unity,
order, and centeredness.
- Representative use of animals,
i.e., the trickster.
Using the Context Chart
How we (and others) might use
these texts today may be very different from the way in which they were
formerly used. Different audiences in different periods of time appropriate
texts for different purposes. Hence, it is critical to keep our analysis
of literature grounded in its literary, historical, and cultural CONTEXT.
Context is the setting or set of circumstances in which an event occurs.
Things to remember:
- A work of literature is
a product of a particular time and place.
- Prior to reading a text,
establish the original context of a work of literature. Use KWL to activate
- As a learner, when you approach
texts, show relationships among literature, history, and culture.
- Sometimes context information
is provided in an introduction, a foreword, or a preface; sometimes
it must be researched.