Nature Mythology

In the final years of his life, Joseph Campbell was often asked what he thought would emerge as the next significant body of myth in Western culture. He responded that such new stories would likely present the earth much the way astronauts saw it—as a beautiful, fragile ball of life hurtling through the void of space. In other words, a dramatic crumbling of old boundaries. The great nature myths of the world have always been about anchoring human relationships – with each other, but also with all aspects of nature – in an effort to establish a stronger sense of place. These classes explore a variety of ancient nature myths, paying special attention to the remarkable common ground they shared, as well to the evolution of distinct themes. We also examine how American writers used old myths as platforms from which they could launch powerful new perspectives of the world.