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Course Info

  • Course Number / Code:
  • 21A.212 (Spring 2004) 
  • Course Title:
  • Myth, Ritual, and Symbolism 
  • Course Level:
  • Undergraduate 
  • Offered by :
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
    Massachusetts, United States  
  • Department:
  • Anthropology 
  • Course Instructor(s):
  • Prof. James Howe 
  • Course Introduction:

  • 21A.212 Myth, Ritual, and Symbolism

    Spring 2004

    Course Highlights

    This course includes a complete set of lecture notes, an extensive bibliography, and samples of student work.

    Course Description

    Human beings are symbol-making as well as tool-making animals. We understand our world and shape our lives in large part by assigning meanings to objects, beings, and persons; by connecting things together in symbolic patterns; and by creating elaborate forms of symbolic action and narrative. In this introductory subject we consider how symbols are created and structured; how they draw on and give meaning to different domains of the human world; how they are woven into politics, family life, and the life cycle; and how we can interpret them.

    The semester will be devoted to a number of topics in symbolism.

    1. Metaphor and Other Figurative Language
    2. The Raw Materials of Symbolism, especially Animals and The Human Body
    3. Cosmology and Complex Symbolic Systems
    4. Ritual, including Symbolic Curing and Magic
    5. Narrative and Life
    6. Mythology

This course content is a redistribution of MIT Open Courses. Access to the course materials is free to all users.

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