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Agamemnon sacrificing Iphigenia
MythConceptions : Syllabus
Introduction Objectives Instructors Textbooks Requirements

What is a myth? Who makes myth, and why?

     Students in this course will explore the process and the purpose of mythography (the composition of myth).

     Starting with examples of literary and visual evidence from ancient Greece and Rome, students will establish some ground rules both for working from and creating innovations within an established tradition.

     Students will then put their theories to the test by examining mythography in the modern-day contexts of a major film franchise: the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

     Ultimately, students will understand myth not only as a certain type of story, but also as a social discourse, through which mythographers reveal themselves and their values to the world.


This course will introduce students to disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives on mythography, with the following goals:

  • to explore and examine myth-making in its various forms;
  • to compare and contrast ancient and modern methods of making myth;
  • to assess the value of myth to ancient and modern audiences; and
  • to understand the impact of copyrighting and branding on the mythographic process.

     In addition, this is a course about knowing, particularly about ways to identify problems, formulate productive questions, and go about answering those questions. Students in this course will demonstrate the ability

  • to distinguish among, and formulate, types of questions asked by different disciplines;
  • to read critically, and gather and interpret evidence;
  • to distinguish among the evidence and methodologies appropriate to different disciplines;
  • to consider and address complexities, and ambiguities;
  • to make connections among ideas;
  • to recognize choices, examine assumptions and ask questions of themselves and of their own work;
  • to formulate conclusions based upon evidence;
  • to communicate ideas both orally and in writing; and
  • to relate the results of the course to their educational goals.

Professor Dan Curley

Office: 212 Filene Hall
Hours: Tu 1:00 – 2:00, F 10:30 – 11:30, or by appointment
Phone: 518-580-5463

Peer Mentor: Olivia Rosenblum (Class of 2022)

Hours: TBA or by appointment


The following required books are available in the Skidmore Shop:

  • Homer, The Iliad. Translated by Robert Fagles. Penguin Classics.
  • Apollonius of Rhodes. Jason and the Argonauts. Translated by Aaron Poochigian. Penguin Classics.
  • Chambliss et al., eds. 2018. Assembling the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Essays on the Social, Cultural and Geopolitical Domains. McFarland & Company.

     Other readings will be distributed in advance, either in hardcopy or electronically.



Class participation involves more than just attendance. Students must also keep up with the readings and assignments, and participate actively during all sessions. Students are also expected to come to class on time, remain in the classroom, and to maintain an environment that promotes the exchange of ideas.

     See below under "Policies" for more information on attendance.

Special events:

  • Monday, Sept. 9, 8:00 p.m. FYE Signature Event: Professor Jennifer Hochschild, Do Facts Matter? Information and Misinformation in American Politics. Zankel Auditorium (and Filene Hall overflow).
  • Tuesday, Sept. 10: President's Reception at Scribner House, 4:00–5:00 p.m.


In the semester project students will write a research paper in which they

  • draw connections between ancient myth and the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU); or
  • discuss how the MCU resembles ancient myth.

     The completed projects are due Thursday, December 19.

EXAM (25%)

Our midterm exam (Wednesday, October 23) will focus on ancient myth, particularly the legend and motifs we have studied thus far.

     Fall 2019 Midterm Exam Guidelines.



Attendance at all sessions is mandatory. You will be allowed two excused absences (due to illness or some other emergency). Absences must be excused before class; late excuses will not be accepted.

Academic integrity

Skidmore's Academic Integrity Handbook (p. 6) defines plagiarism as "copying, paraphrasing, or imitating another person's ideas, information, data, words, descriptions, choice of evidence, structure of argument, and so on." It does not matter whether that person's work appears in print or on the web. Cases of plagiarism, whether intentional or unintentional, will be referred to the Office of Academic Advising for appropriate sanctions.


Unless you require a laptop or tablet as a special accommodation (see Disability, below), laptops and tablets should not be used during class. Phones should be silenced and stored away.


If you are a student with a disability and believe you will need academic accommodation, you must formally request accommodation from Meg Hegener, Coordinator for Student Access Services. You will also need to provide documentation that verifies the existence of a disability and supports your request.

     For further information, please call 580-8150 or stop by the office of Student Academic Services in Starbuck Center.

Content warning

The material of myth, whether ancient or modern, is often violent and/or sexually explicit. Please be prepared for material that might make you or your peers uncomfortable. If you have concerns about our readings, viewings, or discussions, please bring them to my or our Peer Mentor's attention.


Skidmore College considers sexual and gender-based misconduct to be one of the most serious violations of the values and standards of the College. Unwelcome sexual contact of any form is a violation of students’ personal integrity and their right to a safe environment and therefore violates Skidmore’s values. Sexual and gender-based misconduct is also prohibited by federal regulations.

     Skidmore College faculty are committed to supporting our students and upholding gender equity laws as outlined by Title IX. If a student chooses to confide in a member of Skidmore’s faculty or staff regarding an issue of sexual or gender-based misconduct, that faculty or staff member is obligated to tell Skidmore’s Title IX Deputy Coordinator.

     The Title IX Deputy Coordinator will assist the student in connecting with all possible resources for support and reporting both on and off campus. Identities and details will be shared only with those who need to know to support the student and to address the situation through the college’s processes. If the student wishes to confide in a confidential resource, The Counseling Center Staff, Health Services, and Victim Advocates are all options available.

     More information can be found at or by contacting the Title IX Deputy Coordinator.

© Skidmore College Classics Department