ANTH 3348 Lecture Notes - Lecture 13: Stith Thompson, Franz Boas, Folkloristics

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ANTH 3348
Ritual unit will not be on midterm
Myth(ology) and Cosmology
Aetiological myths myths that explain the origin of something
Myth does not imply a lie or something that is false
Anthropologists are not necessarily looking at myths to determine how true they are but
more to look at how and why people come to believe them
A myth could be described as a story
Variants different versions of a story or myth
Motif a theme in stories, often in stories from different cultures and countries
o Stith Thompson coined motif in his research of “Tale-Type Motif”
o Eg. Cinderella there are many versions of a cinderalla story across many
Two of the most central challenges to understanding myths from the anthropological
viewpoint is understanding the reality that the myth corresponds to and how is it used in
the culture and society
Folklorists are mainly interested in the themes of myths
o Recently there has been a move towards Folkloristics
Folkloristics the study of live performance, how the story is told
Philology the study of the history and development of different branches of languages
Evolutionists were interested in myth for what it revealed about the origin of religion,
they were also interested in classifying myths
Franz Boas “the father of American anthropology”, he pointed out the importance of
looking at local cultural distinctions when looking at myth
Ruth Benedict culture and personality school of thought
Functionalist approach to myth
o Bronislow Malinowski
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