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AN2008 - Myth and Ritual

[Offered in odd-numbered years in Cairns. Offered in even-numbered years in Townsville. ]

Credit points: 3
Year: 2011
Student Contribution Band: Band 1
Administered by: School of Arts & Social Sciences

The subject introduces students to the world of myth and ritual: aspects of human culture that are vital to the construction of self and identity as well as to the nature of the imaginative engagement between people and their worlds. Myth and ritual are universal features of human thought and practice and, as such, they reveal critical insights into the nature of human beings. Through the careful analysis of myths and rituals from different cultural contexts, the subject explores vital and perennial topics of Anthropology, Philosophy and Religious Studies. The subject explores questions of why people create and articulate myths, of the importance of myths for the understanding of what it means to be human, and of the significance of common themes evident in myths from different cultural, geographical and historical contexts. The subject explores the importance of ritual as a special type of human individual and collective practice. To this end, the subject explores the aesthetics of ritual symbolism, theatre, music, dance while exploring such phenomena as initiation, trance, sacrifice, spirit possession, shamanism and sorcery. The myth and ritual traditions that the subject focuses upon will vary, but will focus on societies and cultures of the tropics.

Learning Outcomes

  • to compare certain cross-cultural parallels and commonalities in myth and ritual;
  • to examine the influence that different anthropological approaches to myth and ritual have had on other disciplines such as Philosophy, Performance Studies, Social Theory and Cultural and Literary Studies;
  • to identify and discuss the major anthropological approaches to myth and ritual;
  • to study a number of examples of myth and ritual from different cultural contexts.
To undertake this subject, students must have successfully completed 12 credit points (four subjects) of level 1 study at tertiary level
AN3008 and SY2049 and SY3049


Cairns, Internal, Study Period 1
Census Date 24-Mar-2011
Coordinator: Dr Michael Wood
Workload expectations:
  • 26 hours lectures
  • 12 hours tutorials
Assessment: end of semester exam (40%); tutorial attendance and participation (20%); essays (40%).

Note: Minor variations might occur due to the continuous Subject quality improvement process, and in case of minor variation(s) in assessment details, the Subject Outline represents the latest official information.