"Mythic Proportions" Inquiry Unit—Year 8
Myths are both universal and individual representations of a group of people’s beliefs. They are influenced by culture, but all answer the same basic questions regarding human existence. Theatre and mythology are tools often used to help people understand these timeless and immense ideas. In this project, students will research the mutual influence of culture and myth. They will create a “Making of Myths” documentary presentation that will examine and explore similar and differing themes, characters, and plot elements in ancient myths.
You and your friend have just watched a behind-the-scenes feature on the Harry Potter films that compares them to other great mythologies in film and literature like Star Wars and The Lord of The Rings. While discussing with the class one day, your teacher hears this discussion and points out that while there are similarities in plot elements and character types, they both have slightly different overall messages. This is not uncommon in mythological stories. To help you understand this concept, your teacher splits your class into small groups and presents you with the following task: Create your own “Making of Myths” documentary.
To complete this challenge, you will need to research the birth, purpose, and nature of literature, theatre, and mythology in ancient Greece. Focus on how and why stories and performances teach morals, values, and beliefs in this period. Look at the similarities and differences of the mythological creation stories of the Sumer, Babylonian, Egyptian, Greek, and the nationalized Chinese people. Your task is to create a chart to organize common themes, character types, and plot elements that occur, along with subtle differences in each myth.
Give possible cultural reasons as to why these themes, characters, and plot elements were chosen (i.e. the importance of water to Sumerian culture and its prominent placement in its creation myth).
You will then need to write and create a presentation that includes performances of sections of each myth and information as to the structure of the legend, its influences on future tales, and its influence on society. The presentation may include sharing images and text or acting out scenes from different myths, followed by a series of narrative speeches that explain the cultural significance of the story.
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