Sunday, 18 January 2015

Western Myths Retold in Canada

Many of the traditional Western myths have been re-told in Canadian poems of the late 20th and/or early 21st century. Please compare these contemporary poems to either the original myth or to one (or more) of the non-Canadian retellings of the same myth.


Lorna Crozier, "On the Seventh Day"
Ted Huges, "Apple Tragedy" (from: Crow Poems)

Leda and Zeus:
William Butler Yeats, "Leda and the Swan"
Robert Bringhurst, "Leda and the Swan"
-> Robert Bringhurst, The Calling. 90-91.

P.K. Page, "This Heavy Craft"
Anne Sexton, "To a Friend Whose Work Has Come to Triumph"

Margaret Atwood, "Siren Song"
William Browne, "Sirens' Song"

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Becoming - Being - Meaning

Finding out one's true identity and becoming who one is meant to be have been important themes in literature from all times and places. Please re-read Skaay's myth about the Sapsucker (which was told and transcribed in Skidegate, Haida Gwaii in 1900) and compare it to Franz Kafka's Parable "Before the Law" (written in Prague in 1915). With how many different symbolic interpretations of the two texts can you (individually and/or collectively) come up? And which of these readings seems the most meaningful to you?
Link to the English translation of Kafka's text:

Please feel free to write a symbolic poem or story that defines identity and post it here.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Storytelling and Identity (2)

Please choose ONE - or, if you wish, of course more than one - of the following options A, B, or C:

Find out more about Carl Jung's research on archetypes - as well as about Joseph Campbell's book The Hero with a Thousand Faces and about Northrop Frye's Anatomy of Criticism, in particular about his "Theory of Symbols" & "Theory of Myths."
Please comment on points that you find particularly interesting and/or useful in these works and relate what you have found out to some of the stories you know - or to your own life.
BTW, Northrop Frye is Canadian and quite ingenious as well as inspiring - though usually not read much today. You probably know Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell anyway. Joseph Campbell's work - and tons of other resources about mythology and related topics - are available at the Joseph Campbell Foundation website:

Check out Caroline Myss's Gallery of Archetypes and write down some of the archetypes that appeal to you. Write a short narrative or play, in which these characters meet and interact with each other or with you. Feel free to change the archetypes to more realistic life-like characters with their own unique features or cast them in a more stylized and traditional way.
Optional: take the archetype quiz and find out who you really are :)

Think about one of your favourite movies or books - one that you watched or saw several times - and try to find and analyze the archetypes in it. Reflect on how these archetypes relate to you and your life.

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Storytelling and Identity (1)

Identity and Storytelling have been intimately interconnected since the beginning of what we know about human culture. The topic is vast and complex - and can be looked at in many ways.

Please find below some links to some TED talks that I find very interesting in this context. You can either comment on these talks or take the talks as starting point for your own reflections.

Feel also free to add links to other talks or articles that you find interesting in this context.

Here the links:

Identity/Identities (2)

Please read the following two articles and comment on them either in relation to your own identity or in relation to [Canadian] identity in a more general sense.

"Who Are You?"

"Beyond Cultural Identity: Reflections on Multiculturalism"

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Identity/Identities (1)

Please introduce yourself to the rest of us - in a way that shows your preferred mask(s) as well as (some of) the "real" you behind/ underneath/ within/ beyond/ in between/ ... all those masks.

You are welcome to approach this topic in any way you find suitable - including, of course, in a creative way and/or in a live performance. If you choose to do a performance, please record yourself and send us the youtube link :)

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Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Perspectives on Maps

Please have a look at the following maps and discuss how they can mirror and/or mask and/or manipulate our view of the world. What do these maps reveal about "Canada" and it's relation to other people?

You may also want to listen to the following short clips about the topic:

Peters Map - with Correct Proportions & Sizes

Upside-Down Map - with Traditional Proportions & Sizes

Upside-Down Peters Map - with Corrected Proportions & Sizes

Canada's Provinces

North America's First Nations (Canada & US)

First Nations in BC (Map 1)

First Nations in BC (Map 2)

Canada / Canadian

What does Canada/ Canadian mean to YOU? Please try to define the concept in a way that feels true to you.

Feel free to explore in this context negative and positive ideas to bring out some criticism as well as the main attraction of this unique cultural construct. You are welcome to choose a symbol/ icon/ image (or symbols/ icons/ images) that, in your opinion, represent(s) the idea of Canada / Canadian today.

In Defence of Literature

Why do we "still" read literary texts - in particular poems, stories, myths, novels, plays, etc - in today's world?

Please describe your motivation(s) for reading literature in any genre you find appropriate (e.g. short speech, letter, poem, story, dialogue, ad, etc). Be as convincing as you can :)

Please also check out the following short clip and feel free to comment on it and/or to compare the statements made in it to your own ideas.