Chris's Reviews > World Mythology: An Anthology of Great Myths and Epics

World Mythology by Donna Rosenberg
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Sep 09, 07

bookshelves: taught-it-to-a-class

This year we're starting out Sophomore English with a unit on Creation Mythology before turning to The Odyssey. I'm using this book as the core text because it gives a very broad overview of world mythology in an intelligent, inclusive, and complex fashion. I like how it breaks mythology down into specific ethnic traditions: instead of a section on "African Myths," they tell you which group, such as the Yoruba, the myth comes from; instead of "South American Myths," you get myths from the Tiahaunaco, the Aztec, and the Maya. The myths themselves retain their strangeness, their illogic, and their often disturbing violence and sexuality. All too often anthologies of myths boil them down into bland retellings that leave out all not just the sex and violence, but the bizarre contradictions that make myths so appealing in the first place. I highly recommend this anthology - the only downside is that it is some 700 pages, so getting enough copies for your students to take home would be expensive and getting them to lug them around difficult. I have one class set and use lots of hand-outs.
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message 1: by Anna (new) - added it

Anna I LOVE myths of creations, and myths in general.
This sounds like something for me!
And thank you for that comment on how teh antology is specific as to where from the myths originated - one of my sources of annoyment is when they just write "African Myths" (or South American or whatever) or any such generic term.


Chris Five years ago when was teaching at Walton High School I had this HORRIBLE anthology. Not only did it group myths by "African" and "South African", but the introduction to the former referred to the "exotic traditions of the dark continent." The section on "North American Myths" consisted entirely of New England folk-tales without a single Native American myth!

Beyond being culturally offensive, the retelling were HORRIBLE. I think it was when we were reading the myth of Orpheus and Orpheus tripped and accidentally looked back at Euridice, eliminating any possibility of tragedy from the story that I threw the copy across the room, collected the books from my students, and started using hand-outs.


message 3: by Anna (new) - added it

Anna You know what? Despite being the bookish misfit with braces and glasses back then, I actually miss high school right now. We had the most passionate English teacher who half of the students hated because she wanted us to use our brains to the max, and the other half loved her for that same reason. She's the reason that the Infernopart of the Divine Comedy is on my favorite top-ten of all times.


Chris Mr. Lee is the reason I'm an English teacher today, and he was the same loved/hated challenging teacher. I hope someday some of my students will say the same about me.


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