ENG 447 / APY 447/ AMS 447


Professor Dennis Tedlock/Fall 2000/Tues. & Thurs. 12:30 - 1:50 PM/4 Clemens



Myths not only create imaginal worlds that offer alternatives to the life world, but offer keys to the interpretation of the life world itself, revealing a mythic level of significance in everyday events. Myths also give shape and meaning to dreams and visions, and dreams and visions give rise to further myths. We will try to catch those moments when the mythic world comes in contact with the world of experience.


In this course we will undertake a close reading of selected myths from the Americas, attempting to enter imaginal worlds and to look back at the life world from a distance. We will consider not only myths that come down to us from storytellers, speechmakers, and singers, but myths that find expression in Native American writing systems. In addition to myths as such, we will read accounts of dreams and visions and consider poetry in the forms of chants, songs, and speeches. Readings, lectures, and discussions will be accompanied by slides and audio and video recordings. Guest speakers will include at least one Native American storyteller.


Students will be expected to keep detailed, legible notes on classroom discussions and presentations, readings, and their own observations, and to come to class prepared for discussion. The notebooks will be handed in (and returned) at the midterm and at the end. There will be a take-home final essay exam. Questions will be handed out two weeks before the end of classes and the answers (18-25 double-spaced typewritten pages) will be due on the first day of exams. As an alternative to the final, students may propose in-class storytelling or dramatic performances.


Office hours are Thurs. 2-4 PM and by appointment (645-3422) in 540 Clemens.

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Readings will include Gladys Reichard, Navajo Medicine Man: Sandpaintings; Jerome Rothenberg, Shaking the Pumpkin; Brian Swann, Coming to Light; Dennis Tedlock, Finding the Center: The Art of the Zuni Storyteller; and Dennis Tedlock, Popol Vuh: The Mayan Book of the Dawn of Life. Books are available at Talking Leaves Bookstore, 3158 Main Street, near the Main Street campus.