18narrativelife (1)

18narrativelife (1) - 18. NARRATIVE AND LIFE (4/12) 19....

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18. NARRATIVE AND LIFE (4/12) 19. NARRATIVE AND CONTROL (4/14) 20. FOLKTALE AND MYTH(4/21) We are moving from narrative in general to kinds of narrative more often considered by anthropologists. Tales and myths. We by no means have a monopoly. Folklorists first among professionals. But also amateurs of all sorts have had a go at them, even more psychologists, literary critics, etc. Great deal of energy expended on typology. How do we tell fairy tales from legends from myths etc? Much of the problem is that we are imposing categories from our culture on the world, words in English like myth and tale, expect all cultures to fit. Folklorists have expended great energy on typology. Some of it is useful. But we are largely going to ignore it in favor of other questions. We will be most concerned with myth, but not drawing firm lines, if we can learn something interesting from analysis of something that gets labeled a tale or legend, then so be it. Myth is a very complicated notion. And the study of myth far from dispassionate. Bound up in the romantic revival of 18 th and 19 th centuries; with discovery of sacred epics of Asia; with nationalist search for roots and essence of nation, folklore studies an important adjunct to nationalism. Very useful study by Von Hendy (in supplementary reading list). Q. What do we mean by myth? (even if we are inconsistent) Q. What about myth of silent majority, or myth that the so-and-sos are all like that? key feature is falsity. -One kind of falsity, or at least difference: actions not same as mundane world today. Gods, talking animals, transformations, etc. But complicated, because in many usages, it is false on one level and true on another. Very often but not always, is oral, part of oral tradition. -assumption that there is a body of such stories -and that in some way fundamental for society -Very ethnocentric, imposing our definitions and assumptions on other culture. But does appear that many societies do have narratives about ancient times, beginning of world, when many things now differentiated were then still mixed, e.g. animals, spirits, and people and in some way those narratives are more basic and fundamental than, e.g. a little tale about three little pigs So we are probably safe at having a crack at analyzing those sorts of narratives, whether a particular one strikes us as a folktale or a myth
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-How do we go about making sense of mythology? It turns out that we are coming in very late. Just about everyone you can think of has had a crack at it. Esp. in 19 th and 20 th centuries, myth became a prominent topic, and just like totemism, every theorist felt that his or her theory should explain it. (Von Hendy book is excellent on this.) 1. One very obvious tack is to insist either that myths are literally true, or else that they are true but confused or garbled, and we need to clear away the brush to show the truth. Literalist historical interpretation.
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This note was uploaded on 11/05/2011 for the course ANTHRO 101 taught by Professor Crandall during the Fall '09 term at BYU.

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