This week, we are working to lay important intellectual foundations for our class by introducing the classical theories of Aristotle (on the subject of tragedy) and the recent scholarship of Joseph Campbell (on the “monomyth” and the mythical hero). To more fully comprehend the theories in question and the first mythical stories on the syllabus – myths of creation and flood/apocalypse stories from the ancient world – I want see how you can tie them together in a very specific way. You have two options for this exploration. 1) In the first case, you may apply specific ideas from Aristotle’s theories of tragedy to a specific myth (assigned for Wednesday) of your choosing. I was particularly thinking that it would be interesting to see how the plot of your chosen tale fits certain “tragic” modes (such as leading toward a “catharsis”), or to consider how the characters fit Aristotle’s ideals – especially of the “tragic hero.” 2) On the other hand, you might work with and through key ideas from Campbell’s influential scholarship. If, for example, you would like to explore the notion of a “monomyth,” you might compare/contrast the similarities between several of the creation tales. Alternately, it might be interesting to think about how a given story depicts the stages of the hero’s journey according to Campbell’s terms (i.e. separation, initiation, return). For this first Blog post of the semester, it’s all about applied critical thinking – and it will be interesting to see what kinds of intellectual connections you can make by utilizing the ideas of Aristotle or Campbell.