Introduction to Folklore and Mythology

Course Number: ENG 250
Transcript Title: Intro to Folklore & Mythology
Created: September 1, 2012
Updated: June 6, 2017
Total Credits: 4
Lecture Hours: 40
Lecture / Lab Hours: 0
Lab Hours: 0
Satisfies Cultural Literacy requirement: Yes
Satisfies General Education requirement: Yes
Grading options: A-F (default), P-NP, audit
Repeats available for credit: 0

Prerequisite / Concurrent

Course Description

Develops a cross-cultural perspective on myths, mythologies and folklore from around the world. Explores different theories of the cultural meanings and functions of myth, past and present. Introduces various ways of interpreting and experiencing myth and folklore as texts with oral origins. Prerequisite/concurrent: WR 121. Audit available.

Intended Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Identify major concepts, theories, genres and methodology within the academic field of folklore.
  2. Interpret examples of major narrative folk genres such as myth, legend and folktales.
  3. Evaluate the ways in which collection, transcription and scholarship constantly reinterpret an oral tradition.
  4. Appreciate the role of myth and folklore within the cultures that produce them with an understanding of how oral performance shapes the meaning of a story.
  5. Identify recurring mythological themes and motifs in traditional world myths and modern culture.
  6. Write clear, focused, coherent essays about literature for an academic audience using standard English conventions of grammar and style.

Alignment with Institutional Core Learning Outcomes

In-depth 1. Communicate effectively using appropriate reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. (Communication)


2. Creatively solve problems by using relevant methods of research, personal reflection, reasoning, and evaluation of information. (Critical thinking and Problem-Solving)
3. Extract, interpret, evaluate, communicate, and apply quantitative information and methods to solve problems, evaluate claims, and support decisions in their academic, professional and private lives. (Quantitative Literacy)


4. Appreciate cultural diversity and constructively address issues that arise out of cultural differences in the workplace and community. (Cultural Awareness)


5. Recognize the consequences of human activity upon our social and natural world. (Community and Environmental Responsibility)

Outcome Assessment Strategies

Assessment tools may include informal responses to study questions; evaluation of small-and full-group discussion; in-class and out-of-class writing; formal essays, as well as informal responses to study questions and other types of informal writing; close reading exercises using support/evidence; writing exercises which include evaluation of various interpretations of a text and their relative validity. Both instructor and peer evaluation may be incorporated into the assessment process.

Texts and Materials


  • Annotated Classic Fairy Tales. Tatar. Norton.
  • Cinderella: A Casebook. Dundes. U Wisconsin P.
  • Classical Mythology. Morford and Lenardon.
  • Coyote Was Going There. Ramsey. U Washington P.
  • Favorite Folktales from Around the World. Yolen. Pantheon.
  • Illiad and Odyssey. McCarty.  Kingfisher Epics.
  • Miriam's Tambourine: Jewish Folktales from around the World. Schwartz. Oxford UP.
  • Mythmakers. Barnard. Breitenbush.
  • Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes. Hamilton. Little, Brown and Co.
  • Old Tales and New Truths: Charting the Bright-Shadow World. King. State U of NY.
  • Odyssey. Trans. Fagels. Penguin.
  • Orality and Literacy. Ong.
  • Parallel Myths. Bierlen.  Ballatine.
  • Perrault's Fairy Tales. Dover.
  • Trickster Makes This World. Hyde. Farrar, Strauss, Giroux.
  • World Mythology. Rosenberg.

Course Activities and Design

The course design can include lecture, discussion, and group work, along with other activities such participating in group projects, film viewing, and so forth. Student activities will include reading and responding to course materials along with participating in the various other course activities.

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

The course will introduce and foster understanding of:

  • Topics and themes of mythology and folklore.
  • Nature and function of mythology and folklore.
  • Relationship of myth to art, religion, history, and society.
  • Various definitions of myth, legend, saga, folklore.
  • Interplay between myth and society.
  • Concept of the epic hero.
  • Comparative mythology and folklore.

Department Notes

Instructors may choose an anthology with excerpts, complete works, or a combination of both. The assigned readings will cover a range and diversity of mythology and folklore.