World Mythology

Classes ➞ World Mythology courses

There are no courses in this series on offer in 2020 Term 4. A new course on “Digital Storytelling” will be offered in 2021 Term 1. Stay tuned for more details.


This Course was last offered in 2020 TERM 3. It will be offered again in 2021.

NEW FOR 2020 TERM 3: EarthDiverse is pleased to announce a new series of courses on World Mythology, beginning with our latest offering ʻGrand Narratives and Mythologies in the Western Tradition’ taught by Dr Norman Franke.

Offered: 2020 Term 3 – Hamilton; Distance-learning options also available!

CLASS DAY/TIMES: This Term 3 course meets in Hamilton on Tuesday evenings from 7:00-9:00pm beginning on Tuesday 28 July, and runs for eight consecutive weeks, ending on Tuesday 15 September 2020.

Bacchus pours wine from a cup for a panther, while Silenus plays the lyre.


Have you ever wondered what the grand old narratives and myths of the Odyssey, Exodus or the Arthurian legends are all about but never had the time to study them? This course offers the opportunity to find out more!

Some great narratives and mythologies have strongly influenced the self-construction and imagination of the West. These include legendary stories and mythologies of the Bible, ancient Greek and Roman narratives, as well as Celtic, Germanic and Slavic mythologies.

In this class we’ll read and discuss some of the core texts of the Western tradition together. Based on a few exemplary texts, we’ll also look at later up-takes of mythological elements and the long-term effects of these narratives, which sometimes endure to the present day, especially in contemporary novels, films and art work, for example. 

Applying close and critical reading, we will try to understand which fundamental philosophical, religious and historical questions the mythology is addressing. Additionally, we’ll discuss why myths and narratives have come to be considered seminal, which narratives have gained global appeal, and what they may still mean to us today. Finally, we’ll consider how the texts contributed to the construction of a ‘Western’ tradition and what possible parallels there may be with other, non-Western stories.

sketches by Dr Norman Franke

This eight-week course provides a detailed introduction to the Western mythological tradition. It will be taught in a seminar style, with each class introduced by a short (~10 minutes) talk, followed by a close and critical reading of the texts, followed by discussion, and group reflection. Individual sessions focus on:

  • Week 1: Biblical Mythology: Genesis, Exodus, Abraham: Three visitors. Cosmology, creation, anthropology, imago dei, liberation theology, encounter, mystery, humour.
  • Week 2: Biblical Mythology: Birth of Jesus, Death of Jesus, Apocalypse. Revolution and mysticism, metaphysical hope and ecclesiastical formation, eschatology, end time.
  • Week 3: Ancient Greek Mythology: Odyssey, Sisyphus, Orpheus and Eurydice. Male heroes/lonesome men, life journey, alienation, absurdity, eros and thanatos, power of poetry and music, creation of art.
  • Week 4: Roman and Early French and Italian Mythology: Ovid: Metamorphosis (Pygmalion, Pyramus and Thisbe) Chanson de Roland, Dante: Purgatorio. Gender and education, ageing, chivalry, narrativity and retribution.
  • Week 5: Celtic Mythology: Arthurian Legend, Tristan and Isolde. Round Table: search for the summum bonum, fellowship, betrayal, redemption.
  • Week 6: Germanic Mythology: Loki and Baldur, Peer Gynt, Grimm’s Fairy Tale (The Seven Ravens). Good and evil, vita activa and vita contemplativa, gender balance (archetypical).
  • Week 7: Slavic Mythology: Baba Yaga, The Princess who never smiled. Otherness, eccentricity, coming of age.
  • Week 8: (Meta-) Reflection, conclusion. Cosmology, foundation myths, myths of liberation, myths concerning mysteries of life and death, human relationships, life of heroes, archetypes, modern up-takes. Theories about myths and mythology: myth and functionalism (Eliade, Barthes), myth as condensed history (euhemerism), myth and archetypes (Freud, Jung), myth and ritual, myth as poetry/narrative, comparative mythology.
sketches by Dr Norman Franke


This course will be taught by Dr Norman Franke. Norman is a Hamilton based poet, scholar, artist and film maker (MA, Hamburg University; Ph.D. Humboldt University, Berlin). He has published widely about 18th century literature, German-speaking exile literature (Albert Einstein, Ernst H. Kantorowicz, Else Lasker-Schüler, Karl Wolfskehl) eco-poetics and at the intersection of religion and poetry. Norman’s poetry has been broadcast on radio and published in anthologies in Austria, Germany, New Zealand, Switzerland, the UK, and the USA. He was a Senior Lecturer at the University of Waikato for 22 years before his department was disestablished. He is currently a Conjoint Senior Lecturer & Research Fellow in the School of Humanities and Social Science at the University of Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia.

sketches by Norman Franke

LOCATION: Classes are held at Artmakers Trust, Norris Ward Park Arts Centre, 2 Seddon Road, Hamilton, located on the corner of Ward Street and Seddon Road in Hamilton. The carpark entrance is off Seddon Road at the back of Norris Ward Park. The classroom is immediately to the left of the Waikato Society of Potters studio. There is plenty of free parking available in the carpark just outside the classroom. Bikes are also welcomed!

This course also offers distance-learning options for unable to attend the live in-person classes or those living outside the Waikato. Options include attending on-line live-streamed sessions via free Zoom software, or watching the recorded video sessions via any web-browser at your leisure so that you may study at your own pace.


Cost per person per Term (8 classes):

  • Waged: $104 (includes $4 online registration fee)
  • Unwaged (unemployed, students, seniors): $84 (includes $4 online registration fee)

Registration for this course will be available on our Registration page when this course is reoffered in 2021.

sketches by Dr Norman Franke

More courses in this World Mythologies series will be offered in future Terms.

page updated 26 September 2020.