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FOR 106
Myth and Meaning



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Spring 2005
Myth and Meaning FOR 106   3:35-4:50 TR, CVA 151
Professor: Janice Siegel
Office: STV 203F
OFFICE HOURS: MTWR: 2:50-3:30 and by appt

Graduate Assistant: Jenny Vandillen. Email: jlvandi@ilstu.edu. Please feel free to write either to me or to my graduate assistant with questions. If you do send an email, please put FOR 106 in the subject line.

REQUIRED TEXT: Morford and Lenardon, Classical Mythology 7th ed., Oxford 2003 (older editions acceptable)

GENERAL DESCRIPTION: This is a general education course offering not only the basics of classical (Greek and Roman) mythology, but also an introduction to various interpretive theories of myth. Step One is for us to learn the stories from the primary sources (in translation from Greek and Latin) for classical mythology, i.e., the literature, art, archaeology and architecture of (mostly) ancient Greece. We will learn that unlike us, the Greeks did not consider mythology to be separate from science, philosophy, religion, or even politics it was all wrapped up together, an integrated life view. Step Two will be to try to understand what these myths meant to the Greeks. Why was mythology such an integral part of their culture? And Step Three will be to explore how their mythology has affected our own culture. When you are done with this course, you will wonder how you ever got along without it not a day will pass by without your seeing how the study of the classical world enriches are lives in so many ways.


  • 1. To learn the myths of the Greeks and Romans by reading primary literature.
  • 2. To understand the myths of the Greeks and Romans: origins, nature, categories (myth, legend, folktale) and functions (e.g., aetiological, charter, etc).
  • 3. To understand the representation of individual, cultural, social, political, and personal (including sexual) identity in myth.
  • 4. To learn about Greek myth in the context of Greek culture: topography, archaeological sites, history, religious festivals (e.g., the Olympics), the importance of competition, reason, moderation, etc.
  • 5. To become acquainted with some major theories of myth interpretation (e.g., myth in ritualism, structuralism, functionalism, feminist, psychoanalytic, etc.).
  • 6. To recognize mythological themes in high and low modern culture, including art, architecture, literature, music, film, cartoons, humor, etc.
  • 7. To become familiar with correspondences between the classical myths and those of other cultures (e.g., Native American, Norse, Celtic, Egyptian, African, etc.)


You are encouraged to attend class on a regular basis because we will have a short objective reading quiz every Tuesday and an in-class writing exercise on some Thursdays. Because of the large number of students in this class, missed quizzes and writing assignments CANNOT BE MADE UP. Your lowest grade in each category will be dropped, so that the very occasional absence here or there will not condemn you unfairly.

What if I miss class because I am involved in a Sanctioned University Activity?: http://www.policy.ilstu.edu/policydocs/equitable_treatment.htm

What if I have to miss class because of religious observance?

Here is a great webpage with student info: http://www.ilstu.edu/depts/studentlife

Academic Integrity

I expect that everyone in this class will do his or her own work, inside and outside of class. It is OK to collaborate with others to gain mastery of the material. It is not OK to be so dependent on a classmate or other knowledgeable soul that the work you hand in is not a product of your own effort and understanding. Academic dishonesty covers a lot of ground: cheating, computer dishonesty, plagiarism, grade falsification, and collusion are all defined in the Undergraduate Catalog handbook, page 57 (or in the on-line Student Code of Conduct, under General Regulations, section B), and more information is available at the Dispute Resolution Services Website (http://www.ilstu.edu/depts/SDRS). I do not expect any of my students to be dishonest, but it is only fair for me to tell you right up front that I will respond to deliberate acts of academic dishonesty appropriately. Professors are required to report suspected cheating. Please do not put me in that position.

Special considerations

If you need a special accommodation to fully participate in this class, please talk to me about it privately as soon as possible. You may also contact the Office of Disability Concerns directly at (309)438-5853 (Voice) or (309)438-8620 (TTY/TDD).


You are expected to come into class prepared with that day's reading assignment completed. Most weeks you will be evaluated in some way - it may be an OPSCAN reading quiz, an art identification quiz, or a short in-class written assignment. Sometimes you will have a take home assignment. If you read the assigned chapters, pay attention in class, access the website (both mine and Morford and Lenardon's) on a regular basis, and take the time to engage with the material, you should have no trouble achieving success.

I have prepared (and continue to prepare) material to supplement the book. Anything I present in class is fair game for the tests, so I suggest that you come to class prepared to supplement your knowledge, too. I will not simply reiterate what is in the book during lecture. I will assume that you already know that material. My lectures are almost always illustrated or use power point, and sometimes are accompanied by excerpts from instructional videos or other multi-media materials. I expect you to comport yourself in an appropriate manner: please, no talking during presentations (either my lectures or films or videos) and no eating in the lecture hall. My classes are grounded in the concept of mutual respect and the bigger the class, the more important this fundamental agreement becomes.

Although the size of the class may present a challenge in terms of productive class discussions, please do come prepared with questions or comments you would like to present. You are expected to read the material and to think about it. writing assignments will be designed to allow you freedom to express yourself, but they will also demand that you put some thought into this class. Engage with the material and enjoy the process of discovery.


Average of OPSCAN Multiple Choice Quizzes (25%)
Average of writing assignments (in class and out) (25%)
Midterm (25%)
Final Exam or Final Project (25%)

No, you may not take the Final Examination at a different time. Please arrange to be on campus on MONDAY MAY 9, 2005 AT 3:10 PM.

Final Project: Students who have an A average as of Spring Break may choose to complete a final project instead of taking the final exam.

copyright 2001 Janice Siegel, All Rights Reserved
send comments to: Janice Siegel (jfsiege@ilstu.edu)

date this page was edited last: 08/02/2005
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