North Island College, Fall 2023

Meeting TimesCVS1: T, Th 1:00 - 2:20 pm; CVS2: T, Th 4:00 - 5:20 pm

Meeting PlaceTyee 202

Instructor: Dan Hinman-Smith

Office:  Trades 112

Office Hours:  Wed: Noon - 3 pm (You can either meet me in person in Trades 112 or set up a video meeting on BlueJeans)

Office Phone: 250-334-5000, Extension 4024

Web-Site: http://www.misterdann.com/ and https://mycourses.nic.bc.ca/

E-Mail: dan.hinmansmith@nic.bc.ca

North Island College is honoured to acknowledge the traditional territories of the combined 35 First Nations of the Nuu-chah-nulth, Kwakwaka'wakw and Coast Salish traditions, on whose traditional and unceded territories the college's campuses are situated.  The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's final report calls for 94 actions toward restoring a balanced relationship between indigenous peoples and settler communities in this country.

Course Description

The secret of life, explains the sacred tavern-keeper Siduri in an ancient Sumerian epic, is that there is no secret.  "When the gods created man they allotted to him death, but life they retained in their own keeping," she tells the king Gilgamesh.  "Fill your belly with good things, dance and be merry, feast and rejoice.  Let your clothes be fresh, bathe yourself in water, cherish the little child that holds your hand, and make your wife happy in your embrace; for this too is the lot of man. "  This course will in some ways defy the strictures of Siduri in returning to the questions that rest at the centre of world mythology.  Who are we?  Where do we come from?  Where are we going?  What is the nature of the cosmos?  What is the relationship between the individual, the family, the community and the transcendent?  How are life and death intertwined?  We will discuss such questions in a philosophical context but the thrust of the course will be to use an historical and comparative framework that analyzes particular mythic traditions.  Rather than attempt to encompass all of world mythology within a one-semester course, we will focus upon the myths of Greece, Mesopotamia, Northern Europe, Egypt, India and Mesoamerica as case studies.


**The different course books rest at the very centre of the curriculum.  They will serve as the focal point for our bi-weekly seminars and for several different assignments.  It is fundamentally important that you access these books throughout the semester.  They are available for purchase at the NIC Bookstore.  I have also provided links to e-text editions below.  The Sanders translation of the Epic of Gilgamesh is available on-line in an audio edition.

Shomit Dutta,ed., Greek Tragedy (New York: Penguin Classics, 2004).

N. K. Sanders, trans., Epic Of Gilgamesh (London: Penguin, 1972).

Linda Egenes and Kumuda Reddy, Ramayana: A New Retelling Of Valmiki's Ancient Epic (New York: Tarcher Perigee, 2016).

Tedlock, Dennis, trans., Popol Vuh: The Definitive Edition (New York: Touchstone, 1996).

Natalie Haynes, Pandora's Jar: Women In The Greek Myths (New York: Harper Perennial, 2022).

Optional Textbook:  I have decided not to include a textbook as one of the required HIS 135 readings.  I would recommend the following volume for any of you who want a general introduction to the world's different mythological traditions:

C. Scott Littleton, Mythology: The Illustrated Anthology Of World Myth And Storytelling (London: Duncan Baird, 2002).

Learning Outcomes

1.  Compare creation myths from a variety of cultures.

2.  Identify and analyze the major gods, heroes and legends of Sumerians, Egyptian, Classical, Celtic, Norse, Mayan, Aztec and Northwest Coast mythology.

3.  Discuss the complex relationship between the gods and the mortals, and between life and death, within those mythic traditions.

4.  Relate mythologies to the historical and societal contexts out of which they emerged.

5.  Describe the various academic theories of myth and apply these to course curricular content.

6.  Compare and contrast different mythic traditions, with particular attention to recurring motifs and themes.

7.  Assess the extent to which mythic imagery, language and stories continue to influence contemporary culture, art and thought.

8.  Better understand how the continuing study of mythology might be effectively integrated into a lifetime of independent learning.

Tentative Class Schedule

Week 1: Entering The Labyrinth

Tuesday, September 5

a)  What Is Myth Discussion

b)  Course Introduction

c)  Video: "Theseus And The Minotaur" (1990) [24 mins]

Thursday, September 7

a)  Lecture: Entering The Labyrinth -- The Myth Of Theseus And The Minotaur

Week 2

Tuesday, September 12

a)  Course Check-In

b)   Introduce CSI Delphi Assignment

c)  Student Mini-Presentations: Mythic Character Sketch

d)  Discussion: Of Ariadne's Thread And The Minotaur's Curse -- An Intensive Focus On The King Minos Legend

Class Preparation:

Research your mythic character and come prepared to offer a 5-minute sketch of your individual

Reading Assignment:

Browse extensively in Ariadne's Thread and The Minotaur's Curse  Discussion Topic

Amaranta Sbardella, "Minotaur: The Monster In The Maze," National Geographic History (September/October 2019): 16-27.

Thursday, September 14

a)  Lecture: The Olympian Pantheon (I)

Viewing Assignment:

Watch at least one of the following:

"Bacchus Uncovered: Ancient God Of Ecstasy," BBC, 2018. (59 mins)

"Venus Uncovered: Ancient Goddess Of Love," BBC, 2017.  (59 mins)

"Mars Uncovered -- Ancient God Of War," BBC, 2020.  (59 mins)

Week 3

Tuesday, September 19

a)   Video: "Jason And The Argonauts"

Seminar Note DueMythic Character Sketch

Thursday, September 21

a)  Discussion: Euripides' Medea

Reading Assignment:

Euripides, Medea (in Greek Tragedy, pp. 129-182).

Optional Extra:

"Medea: Murderous Love," The Great Greek Myths, Arte France, 2015.  (26 mins)

Week 4

Tuesday, September 26

a)  Course Check-In

b)  Discussion:  The Olympians

c)   Lecture: The Olympian Pantheon (II)

Class Preparation:

Follow the instructions outlined within the Olympian Pantheon Discussion Topic and come ready to talk briefly in class about what you studied.

Seminar Note Due:  Medea

Thursday, September 28

a)  Discussion:  Sophocles' Oedipus Rex

b)  Possible Mini-Lecture:  Of Medea's Rage And The Sphinx's Riddle -- Medea And Oedipus In Context

Reading Assignment:

Sophocles, Oedipus Rex (in Greek Tragedy, pp. 69-128).

Optional Extra:

"Oedipus -- The Riddle Solver," The Great Greek Myths, Arte France, 2015.  (26 mins)

Week 5

Tuesday, October 3

a)   Lecture : Sing Of The Wrath Of Achilles -- The Trojan War

Optional Extras:

"Greek Myths: Tales Of Traveling Heroes," BBC, 2010.  (89 mins)

"The Iliad," In Our Time, BBC Radio 4, September 13, 2018.  (48 mins)

Great Greek Myths -- Iliad, Arte France, 2019 (Available through NIC's Films On Demand):

Episode 1, Apple Of Discord (26 mins)

Episode 2, Time For Sacrifice (26 mins)

Episode 3, Wrath Of Achilles (26 mins)

Episode 4, Blood Of The Goddess (26 mins)

Episode 5, Sword And The Scales (26 mins)

Episode 6, Hera's Plan (26 mins)

Episode 7, Patroclus And The Myrmidons (26 mins)

Episode 8, Achilles' Revenge (26 mins)

Episode 9, Vanquish Or Die (26 mins)

Episode 10, Trojan Horse (26 mins)

Seminar Note Due:  Oedipus Rex

Thursday, October 5

a)  Video: "The Odyssey," Invitation To World Literature, Annenberg Foundation (2010) [27 mins]

b)  Student Discussion and Mini-Presentations:  Great Greek Myths, Arte France, 2015 (Available through NIC's Films On Demand):

Class Preparation:

i)  You will be assigned to a group and asked to watch one of the following short videos.

Psyche, Beauty And The Beast (26:06)

Perseus, The Look Of Death (26:01)

Heracles, The Man Who Became A God (26:03)

Antigone, The Woman Who Said 'No' (25:55)

Bellerophon, The Man Who Wanted To Be A God (25:49)

Orpheus, A Hymn Of Impossible Love (25:49)

ii)  Follow the instructions outlined within the Greek Myth Miscellany Discussion Topic and come ready to talk briefly in class about what you studied.

Week 6

Tuesday, October 10

a)  ***C.S.I. Delphi Class Mini-Presentations

Thursday, October 12

a)  Discussion:  Theorists Of Myth -- Carl Jung

b)  Lecture:  Theorists Of Myth

Reading Assignment:

Viktoriya Sus, "Jung's Most Controversial Idea: What Is The Collective Unconscious," The Collector (January 17, 2023).

Viewing Assignment:

"Theories Of Myth," Episode 12, Crash Course World Mythology, May 21, 2017.  (12 mins)

***CSI Delphi Project Due

Week 7

Tuesday, October 17

a)  Audio:  Listen to 10 minute reading of Epic Of Gilgamesh

b)  Discussion:  Epic Of Gilgamesh

Audio Edition Epic Of Gilgamesh

Reading Assignment:

Epic of Gilgamesh

Optional Extras:

"Epic Of Gilgamesh," In Our Time, BBC Radio Four, November 3, 2016.

Francisco Del Rio Sanchez, "Opening The Floodgates: 'The Epic Of Gilgamesh,'" National Geographic History (January/February 2018): 90-93.

Thursday, October 19

a)  Video: Watch Epic Of Gilgamesh, Invitation To World Literature, Annenberg Foundation (30 mins.)

b)  Lecture: Mesopotamian Mythology (I)

Optional Extra:

"Gilgamesh and The Flood," Histocrat, December 1, 2021.  (132 mins)

Week 8

Tuesday, October 24

a)  Discussion: Lilith -- Mesopotamian Demoness

b)  Discussion: Mesopotamian Mythology

c)  Lecture:  Mesopotamian Mythology (II)

Listening Assignment:

"Lilith -- Mesopotamian Demoness," Episode 307, The Ancients, April 29, 2023.

Reading Assignment:

Javier Alonso Lopez, "The Garden Of Eden: Origins Of Paradise,'" National Geographic History (March/April 2018): 16-27.

Browse extensively in the Mesopotamian Mythology Discussion Topic.

Seminar Note Due:  Epic of Gilgamesh

Thursday, October 26

a)  Discussion: Egyptian Mythology

b)  Lecture: The Way To Eternity -- Egyptian Mythology

Reading Assignment:

Browse extensively in the Egyptian Mythology Discussion Topic.

Week 9


Tuesday, October 31

a)  Discussion:  Ramayana: A New Retelling Of Valmiki's Ancient Epic

Reading Assignment:

Ramayana: A New Retelling Of Valmiki's Ancient Epic

Thursday, November 2

a)  Lecture:  The Ramayana And The Mahabharata (I)

Reading Assignment:

Rahul Verma, "The TV Show That Transformed Hinduism,'" BBC Culture, October 22, 2019.

Viewing Assignment:

History Of Mythology With Devdutt Pattanaik, Peepul Tree World -- Live History India:

The Story Of Brahma, Episode 1.  (4 mins)

The Story Of Vishnu, Episode 2.  (4 mins)

The Story Of Shiv Parivar, Episode 3.  (4 mins)

The Story Of Durga, Episode 4.  (4 mins)

The Story Of Lakshmi, Episode 5.  (4 mins)

The Story Of Saraswati, Episode 6.  (4 mins)

The Story Of Indra, Episode 7.  (3 mins)

The Story Of Surya, Episode 8.  (4 mins)

Optional Extras:

"Greek Myth And The Indian Epic Ramayana," Start The Week, BBC Radio Four, September 30, 2013.  (43 mins)

Week 10

Tuesday, November 7

a)  Lecture:  The Ramayana And The Mahabharata (II)

b)  Discussion: Hindu Mythology

Listening Assignment:

Reading Assignment:

Browse extensively in the Hindu Mythology Discussion Topic.

Seminar Note Due:  Ramayana

Thursday, November 9

No Class:  Reading Break

Week 11

Tuesday, November 14

a)  Discussion: Norse Mythology

b)  Lecture: Welcome To Middle Earth -- Norse Mythology (I)

Class Preparation:

Follow the instructions outlined within the Norse Mythology Discussion Topic and come ready to talk briefly in class about what you studied.

Thursday, November 16

a)  Discussion: Yggdrasil

b)  Lecture: Welcome To Middle Earth -- Norse Mythology (II)

Reading Assignment:

Browse extensively in Yggdrasil Discussion Topic

Week 12

Tuesday, November 21

a)  Introduce Final Exam

b)  Discussion: Popol Vuh

c)  Discussion:  Joseph Campbell And The Hero's Journey

Reading Assignment:

Popol Vuh: The Definitive Edition

Viewing Assignment:

 "The Hero's Journey And The Monomyth," Episode 25, Crash Course World Mythology, September 2, 2017.  (13 mins)

Thursday, November 23

a)  Video: "Popol Vuh," Invitation To World Literature, Annenberg Foundation (27 mins.)

b)  Lecture: Mesoamerican Myth

Week 13

Tuesday, November 28

a)  Discussion: In The Beginning -- Creation Myths

Class Preparation:

Follow the instructions outlined within the In The Beginning Discussion Topic and come ready to talk briefly in class about what you studied.

Seminar Note Due:  Popol Vuh

Thursday, November 30

a)  Final Exam Review

Week 14

Tuesday, December 5

a)  Discussion:  Pandora's Jar

Reading Assignment:

Haynes, Pandora's Jar or

Listening Assignment:

"Pandora," Episode 2, Series 7, Natalie Haynes Stands Up For The Classics, May 25, 2021.  (28 mins)

"Jocasta," Episode 3, Series 7, Natalie Haynes Stands Up For The Classics, June 21, 2021.  (28 mins)

"Helen Of Troy," Episode 1, Series 6, Natalie Haynes Stands Up For The Classics, May 23, 2020.  (28 mins)

"Medusa," Episode 1, Series 7, Natalie Haynes Stands Up For The Classics, May 18, 2021.  (28 mins)

"Penthesilia, Amazon Warrior Queen," Episode 2, Series 6, Natalie Haynes Stands Up For The Classics, May 30, 2020.  (28 mins)

"Clytemnestra," Episode 4, Series 7, Natalie Haynes Stands Up For The Classics, June 28, 2021.  (27 mins)

"Eurydice," Episode 3, Series 6, Natalie Haynes Stands Up For The Classics, June 6, 2020.  (27 mins)

"Penelope," Episode 4, Series 6, Natalie Haynes Stands Up For The Classics, June 13, 2020.  (27 mins)

Final ExamDate TBA

Final Seminar Note Due:  Pandora's Jar


Letter of Introduction


CSI Delphi


Seminar Notes

40%  (5 x 8%)

Class Participation


Final Exam








a)  Letter of Introduction (1%)

Write a short letter of introduction to me at the beginning of the semester.  This should be at least 100 words in length and is designed to give me a beginning idea of who you are and how I might best serve you as a teacher, and to provide me with an opening snapshot of the class as a whole.  You need not use the following questions as cues but they may be helpful.  Who are you?  Where are you from?  How might you begin to describe your community and what life is like there if you've come to NIC from far away?  What do you miss and what do you think would most surprise me if I were to visit your hometown?  What are your interests?  Why are you taking this course?  What are your thoughts and reflections as you begin HIS 135?  What is myth and what is the importance of studying it?  Are there topics associated with the course that you know will be of potential interest?  Do you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions?  This is an assignment I ask of students in each of my classes.  Although this is not a graded assignment, I would appreciate it if you took several minutes writing a thoughtful introduction?  If you are enrolled in more than one class with me this semester, a single letter of introduction will suffice, but mention something about each of the courses.  If you have taken a class with me before, please update what you wrote before and complete a new letter of introduction.

b)  CSI Delphi (20%)

The CSI Delphi assignment will ask you to design your own murder scenario based upon Greek mythology.

c)  Seminar Notes (40%) [5 different short seminar notes in total]

Seminar notes are commentaries of approximately one-to-two double-spaced pages apiece upon the major course readings (300+ words).  Your choice of seminar notes are due in connection with any five of the seven core discussion readings (Mythic Character Sketch; Medea; Oedipus Rex; Epic Of Gilgamesh; Ramayana; Popol Vuh and Pandora's Jar).

The purpose of the seminar notes is to provide you with the opportunity to organize your thoughts after each of the common major readings.  This exercise is also designed to facilitate analytical group discussion on our seminar days.  The notes need not be formal in style but should be at least a page in length and should highlight key themes from the reading.  Although you should write concisely, it is fine if some of your seminar notes are more than two pages in length.  Hand-written seminar notes are acceptable, though they should be well-structured and analytical.

Rather than being graded on a letter scale, the seminar notes will be evaluated on a check, check-plus, check-plus+, and check-minus basis:

Check:  A fully satisfactory seminar note (7.3/10, B)

Check-Plus:  A strong note that offers thoughtful analysis and/or a well-developed commentary upon the text (8.6/10, A)

Check-Plus+:  An outstanding seminar note that pushes far beyond the basic expectations for this assignment (9.5,A+)

Check-Minus:  A weak seminar note that includes some material of relevance but does not successfully engage with the reading (6.1, C)

d)  Class Participation (19%)

The class participation grade will be based upon attendance; pre-class preparation; and the willingness to contribute thoughtfully to full-class and small-group discussion.  Although attendance is not required, I will take roll, and those who are not in class regularly will receive a poor grade for this component of the course.  I would like to encourage a classroom environment in which all are eager to share their ideas and in which lectures are accompanied by thoughtful dialogue.

e)  Final Exam (20%)

The Final Exam will ask you to write short essays analyzing paired mythological terms. A detailed preparation sheet will be handed out in advance.

Late Policy

The curriculum for this course is organized on a week-by-week basis, with regular seminars being dependent upon full pre-class student preparation for their success.  Late assignments are also often an extra burden from an instructor standpoint.  Due dates should be noted and met.

However, I appreciate that there may be occasions where a very few extra days to polish an assignment in the midst of competing deadlines can be helpful, and thus I deliberately assume a good-faith effort on the part of students to meet the due dates and provide a small cushion of flexibility without any academic penalty.   That does not mean the due dates are unimportant or that extensions are automatically granted.  You should discuss possible extensions with me directly and I reserve the right to refuse to accept any late major assignment if you do not check in with me first.  As a general rule, no assignment will be accepted more than two weeks late.

Writing Support And Peer Tutoring

Writing Support is available to all students at no additional cost.  Go to Writing Support for any or all of your assignments.  Every visit is a step toward becoming a better writer.  Use Writing Support as many times as you like, and at any point in your writing process.  The writing support faculty can help you understand the assignment, develop your ideas, outlines, thesis, and revision -- and anything else in-between.  Book your appointment through the library website, or visit the library desk to inquire about drop-ins.  There's also WriteAway, an online tutoring platform that allows you to upload your papers and assignments for detailed written feedback.  Both services may be found at https://library.nic.bc.ca/WritingSupport .

Student Technical Services

Our Student Technical Service team is available to help you with any technical issues that you may be experiencing as a student.  Please go to https://library.nic.bc.ca/studenttech for more information.

Learn Anywhere

NIC's Learn Anywhere website is geared to provide a collection of information that will help you be successful learning digitally by covering area such as: What is digital learning? How to be a digital learner while using NIC-supported technologies during your studies? A list of key skills and knowledge all students should have for successful learning in today's world, knowing your rights and responsibilities and Technology Readiness Checklists. More details at: https://learnanywhere.opened.ca/

Community Supports (24/7)

There are several supports available to help any student in distress. If you are in distress, please reach out for support.

Vancouver Island Crisis Line:  24/7 1-888-494-3888 (Available to students located on Vancouver Island only)

Crisis Suicide helpline:  24/7 1-800-784-2433 (Available to students located in Canada only)

BC 211:  Full list of community services available across BC.  Dial 2-1-1 on BC cellphone (Available to students located in BC only).

Here2Talk24/7 counselling support for post-secondary students: 1-877-857-3397 (Available to students located in Canada and offshore).

A Note On Plagiarism And Academic Dishonesty

Everything that you hand in should be your original work unless otherwise indicated.  Violations of this policy may result in being reported to the Academic Integrity Committee and in failing an assignment or the course in its entirety.  Please talk to me if you have any uncertainty about what is permitted here.  I want to help you to get as much out of this course as possible but, for this to happen, you need to put forth strong and honest effort.  Thank you.

Related Policy

Community Code of Academic, Personal and Professional Conduct (3-06)

Instructional Accommodation and Access Services for Students with Disabilities (3-17)

Student Appeals Policy (3-30)

Student Complaint Resolution Policy (3-31)

Evaluation of Student Performance Policy (3-33)

Sexual Violence and Misconduct Policy (3-34)

Course Outline Policy (3-35)

Academic Standing and Progression (3-37)

Grading System (4-14)

Welcome To The Course



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