The MythUS Summer School is a blended-learning program that consists of an online preparation class and a ten-day live attendance summer school of face-to-face classes in Athens as well as fieldwork on the island of Antiparos, Cyclades, and five group and/or guided tours in and around Attica and Athens.

The program includes 9 modules divided into 3 groups, each focusing on a different topic:

Topic 1: Myth in Ancient Greek and other Ancient Cultures
Topic 2: The Role of Myth in Response to Dread, Disruption, and Disaster
Topic 3: Narrating in Modern and Contemporary Society

Each student will select a Topic of study on the basis of the module and syllabi descriptions provided below. The series of introductory, in-person lectures will include all students, but each module will have different preparatory work, readings, and seminars/workshops.

The program begins with a remote/preparation phase consisting of two digital meetings of students with each of the individual teachers in their Topic, as well as affording time for students to get started on essential reading and/or project work.

Once on-site for the in-person part of the course, students will all attend introductory lectures, to include follow-up discussion, in all modules, over two days, before breaking out into the Topic group of his/her selection for the remainder of the program. Each student will follow each of the modules offered within their Topic group, for an overall experience that is focused and in-depth, while being at the same time varied and in breadth.

The in-person coursework within each Topic module will take the form of seminars, workshops, discussion, and/or training in methodology, over two half-days. Guided touring is interspersed with lectures and coursework during the in-person part of the course on days three through eight.

The program’s coursework concludes with individual and group preparation for presentation/evaluation.


Date: 24tht of June 2024 – 3rd of July 2024

ECTS: Each student will receive 10 ECTS credit points total for participating in the activities of the summer school. The University of the Aegean will provide all participant students with a diploma supplement including their courses-seminars and credit points

Language: English

Requirements :The Program is open to Bachelor’s, Master and PhD international students, as well as Greek English-speaking ones, with an interest in myth and its contemporary research and applications, and a study background in Humanities and Social Sciences, focusing on Classics, Folklore Studies, History and Cultural Studies.

The program starts with a preparation period from April to June. During the live attendance period of face to face classes students will follow the program of the chosen topic, detailed below.

Topic 1: Myth in Ancient Greek and other Ancient Cultures


1. Course title: “Mythic Aetiologies”

Teacher: William Hansen, Professor Emeritus of Classical Studies & Folklore, Indiana University, Bloomington

Course description and objectives

The lecturer will distinguish the principal genres of folk narrative (myth, legend, folktale), and then introduce and discuss a particular structural feature of folk narratives the world over: the aetiology, or aetiological element.  We will explore the different qualities that aetiologies can manifest, and different topics that they can express, such as cosmic gain or loss (for example, the loss of the primeval paradise that humans once enjoyed).  Special attention will be paid to the enigmatic ancient Greek myth of the first woman, Pandora.

Professor William Hansen

Course Schedule

Teaching methods:
1-hour lecture 

Assessment – type of evaluation:

Short written essay on a comparative topic no more than 2000 words in length

Recommended readings:

William Hansen, “Mythic Aetiologies of Loss.” In:  Explaining, Interpreting, and Theorizing Religion and Myth: Contributions in Honor of Robert A. Segal, edited by Nickolas P.  Roubekas and Thomas Ryba, 265-281.  Supplements to Method & Theory in the Study of  Religion, 16.  Leiden and Boston:  Brill, 2020 [If you can, please read this essay before we meet].

Hesiod. Works and Days 42-105, and Theogony 535-616. (Hesiod is an ancient Greek poet.  His works are available in English translation in different paperback editions.)

Optional readings:

William Hansen. Classical Mythology: A Guide to the Mythical World of the Greeks and Romans. 2nd edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2020. Pp. 90-91 (Aetiology), pp. 264-265 (Pandora).

William Hansen. “Packaging Greek Mythology.” In: Writing Down the Myths, edited by Joseph Falaky Nagy, 19-43. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2013. (on Pandora in mythography)

“Poverty of Cause in Mythological Narrative,” Folklore 120 (2009) 241-252. (on the treatment of causality in mythology)

2. Course title: “Myths and legends of quest in Ancient Greece and the Near East ”

Teacher: Ioannis M. Konstantakos, Professor of Ancient Greek Literature, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

Course description and objectives

The quest for a valuable object or person is a key theme in myth and fairy tale; in the ancient world, it occupied a central position in some of the oldest and most enthralling traditional narratives, both in Classical Greece and in the Near East. Typically, the hero of a quest tale is obliged to travel widely, visit wondrous places, experience extraordinary encounters, or undergo arduous trials and ordeals, in order to carry out his search. The exposition of these adventures may take up a large part of the narrative, although it is not the main end, as happens in plain Reisemärchen and travelogues, but serves as an episodic framework of the hero’s supreme quest mission. The object of the quest, whether a creature or an artefact, is of immense significance and often carries magical and wondrous qualities. The simplest and most “materialistic” variant of the theme is the treasure hunt, the search for the fabulous hidden riches of dwarves, dragons, or pirates, which is especially prominent in northern romances, from the Nibelungenlied and the Völsunga Saga to the tales of Tolkien and Stevenson. In more spiritualized versions, the target of the quest is a source of supernatural power and miraculous regeneration. In these cases, the quest is often undertaken for the sake of an ailing community, which hopes to be healed by the force of the marvellous object. The archetypical western myth of the Grail is the emblematic example.

Professor Ioannis Konstantakos

This seminar will focus on the comparative study of a number of quest narratives from the ancient world, which belong to the latter type, the search for a supernatural means of spiritual renovation. The works to be discussed include the earliest documented quest stories of world literature, which come from the age-old epic tradition of Mesopotamia in the second millennium BCE. In the Standard Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh, the main hero wanders in the worlds of men and gods in search of the plant of immortality, which grows in the depths of the ocean of death. In another masterful poem of the same age, the childless king Etana ascends to heaven, riding an enormous eagle, to meet the goddess Ishtar and receive from her the herb of regeneration. A distant descendant of these oriental legends is the story of Alexander the Great’s quest for the water of life, first expounded in the Hellenistic Alexander Romance and then widespread in medieval and Modern Greek folk tradition. The most exemplary quest myth in the ancient Greek imaginarium is the voyage of the Argonauts, who sail through the inhospitable Black Sea to the faraway land of Colchis, in order to steal the golden fleece. Their mission, at first sight a classic treasure hunt, also bears a side aspect of marvellous resurrection, since these Greek knights of the sea also bring along the witch Medea with her magical cauldron, which can transform old men into youngsters (cf. the healing vessel in the Grail myth). In Aristophanic “fairy-tale comedies” (Peace, Frogs), the quest narrative is overtly connected to the salvation of the community: the hero travels to metaphysical space in order to liberate a supernatural entity vital for the survival of the human world.

In the sessions of the seminar, the source texts of these narratives will be examined and compared in detail. Participants will be expected to contribute to the discussion and will compose a brief essay of comparative analysis on two or more quest tales of their choice.

Course Schedule

Teaching methods:
1-hour preparation (online)

Live sessions: 1-hour lecture, a 4-hours seminar to be conducted in two sessions of ca. 2 hours each, Discussion, Consolidation

Assessment – type of evaluation

A brief written essay (max. 2000 words) focusing on the comparison of different individual narratives of the quest type.

Recommended readings

G. Anderson, King Arthur in Antiquity, London 2003, 96-108 (chapter 7: “Holy Graals and Circular Objects”). G. Anderson, “The Alexander Romance and the Pattern of Hero-Legend”, in R. Stoneman-K. Erickson-I. Netton (eds.), The Alexander Romance in Persia and the East, Groningen 2012, 81-102. W. H. Auden, “The Quest Hero”, in N. D. Isaacs-R. A. Zimbardo (eds.), Tolkien and the Critics. Essays on J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Notre Dame 1968, 40-61. “Etana”, in B. R. Foster, Before the Muses. An Anthology of Akkadian Literature, Bethesda 2005, 533-554. T. Gantz, Early Greek Myth. A Guide to Literary and Artistic Sources, Baltimore 1993, 340-373 (chapter 12, “Iason and the Argo”). A. R. George, The Epic of Gilgamesh. The Babylonian Epic Poem and Other Texts in Akkadian and Sumerian, London 1999. I. M. Konstantakos, “The Wisdom of the Hidden Old Man: An Ancient Folktale of the East in the Alexander Romance”, Athenaeum 105 (2017) 444-481. I. M. Konstantakos, “Il fiabesco e il tragico nel mito Greco”, Nuova Secondaria Ricerca 36 (gen. 2019) 33-57 (partial English version: “Folktale and Tragedy in Greek Myth”, R. Stoneman, The Greek Alexander Romance, London 1991.

3. Course title: “Myth and Culture of Classical Athens ”

Teacher: Sophia Papaioannou, Professor of Latin literature, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

Course description and objectives

This course focuses on the mythological stories and characters of Classical Athens, and their interaction with democratic politics and visual art. Parts of classical literature and compositions of classical art in Athens are introduced and analyzed in correlation, as well as the theories of anthropology, religious studies, and art history. The course sets out to explore the ongoing and complex interaction between mythology and art in 6th and 5th century Athens, as the city progressively comes to occupy the leadership of the Greek world in the post-Persian Wars era. The course will focus on three mythological cycles: the  myth of Theseus and Athenian democracy; the mythology of Dionysus and the birth of Greek theater and drama; and the association of Demeter to the Eleusinian mysteries leading to Athenian religious imperialism all over the Mediterranean world. Additional questions to be raised will include the following: How art determined the development of mythological narratives, plots, subplots and alternative versions? How politicians and great leaders employed jointly myth and art to advance their agendas?Course objectives are a) Introduce textual and visual sources for ancient mythology b) Explore the interdependence between art and myth as cultural expressions c) Understand mythology in relation to other phenomena (i.e. religion, ideology, politics, social experience [marriage, rites of passage, death, etc.)

Professor Sophia Papaioannou

Course Schedule

Teaching methods: Live sessions: three 1.5-hour lectures, one 2-hour seminar. Discussion

Assessment – type of evaluation

A brief written essay (max. 2000 words) focusing on the comparison of different aspects of Athenian mythology, history and art.

Recommended readings

Barry B. Powell, Classical Myth, Pearson 2012/ 7th edition (or any other later edition).
T.H. Carpenter, Art and Myth in Ancient Greece, Thames and Hudson 1991. J. Camp, The Athenian Agora Site Guide, 5th edition. Princeton 2010.

Other Bibliography

Richard Buxton, Handbook of Greek Mythology (New York Dutton) Michael Grant,
The Myths of the Greeks and Romans (New York: NAL-Mentor 1962) Mentor paper (ISBN 0-452-00420-9)
Mary Lefkowitz, Greek Gods, Human Lives: What We Can Learn From Myths (New Haven: Yale 2003).
Jon D. Mikalson, Athenian Popular Religion (Chapel Hill: U. North Carolina 1983).
Walter Burkert, Structure and History in Greek Mythology and Ritual (Berkeley/Los Angeles: UCal 1979) paper
Walter Burkert, Ancient Mystery Cults (Cambridge: Harvard 1987).
Robert E. Bell, Women in Classical Mythology (Oxford 1993).
Susan Deacey, Athena (New York: Routledge 2008).
Richard Seaford, Dionysos (New York: Routledge 2006).
Sergent, Bernard, Homosexuality in Greek Myth (Boston 1986).

4. Course title: “Myths at the shore: addressing identities and discrepancies in Greek myth and thought”

Teacher: Christos Zafiropoulos, Associate Professor of Ancient Greek Literature, University of Patras

Course description and objectives

Starting from Hans Blumenberg’s seminal work on myth and his position that myth and its images constitute an inherited field of discourse between generations that transverses and conjugates human history, the seminar will discuss coastal space in Greek myth and literature, mostly its function as cusp territory. Namely, shores feature in such stories as places where charter bipolar oppositions of Greek culture are staged (i.e. between locals and foreigners, men and women, Greeks and barbarians, friends and enemies, free and slaves etc.).

The seminar will provide a comparative reading of such passages from Greek epic and drama (e.g. Homer’s Odyssey, Aeschylus’ Suppliants, Sophocles’ Philoctetes, Euripides’ Iphigenia among the Taurians), as well as passages from Thucydides and Herodotus. Discussion of particular historical, political and cultural aspects of the Greek world and thought (such as the importance of sea travel, insularity, colonization, otherness, xenia, supplication) will make students address such “coastal myths” and narratives as cultural proposals with respect to the dialectics and dynamics of human relations and of collective and personal identities vis-à-vis the harshness and complexities of human experience, particularly in tense and versatile conditions – issues of major importance in our times.

Students will be expected to contribute to the discussion during the seminar. They will compose a brief essay on one or two (comparative analysis) of the selected texts, or on its/their reception in film (e.g. Pasolini’s Medea, Lars von Trier’s Medea).

Professor Christos Zafiropoulos

Course Schedule

Teaching methods:

1-hour preparation (online)
Live sessions: three 1.5-hour lectures, one 2-hour seminar. Discussion

Assessment – type of evaluation

Short written essay (max. 2000 words)

Recommended readings

Robert Garland, Wandering Greeks, Princeton – Oxford 2014, Princeton University Press, 15-33, 114-130, 180-182.
Homer The Odyssey, transl. Martin Hammond, London 2000, Bloomsbury (or any other trustworthy translation, such as Emily Wilson’s, Robert Faglers’ etc.).
For the theoretical framework to the seminar’s approach to history of ideas via a history of metaphors, see Hans Blumenberg, Shipwreck with Spectator: Paradigm of a Metaphor for Existence, Cambridge Mass. – London, 1996, MIT Press.

Further texts will be made available when seminar begins

Topic 2: The Role of Myth in Response to Dread, Disruption and Disaster


1. Course title: “Myth, Disaster, Healing – narratives promoting community sustainability”

Teacher:  Carl Lindahl, Research Professor of English and Folklore, University of Houston

Course description and objectives

This course offers a characterization of myth and legend as ‘narrative and ritual means through which groups experience their convictions and negotiate their fears’ (adapted from Andrew Wiget). More specifically, I begin by considering myths and legends as community performances spurring groups to confront and overcome (or at least salvage something from) catastrophe. Using examples from medieval and (mainly) modern European and North American traditions, we will examine the creation and performance of group disaster narratives and the social and environmental conditions that shape and are in turn shaped by such narratives.

Each student will focus on certain influential disasters and narratives [suggested by the prof, self-assigned, or based on the other modules in the summer school] treating the themes of natural and/or social disasters or healing, and consider the ways in which these narratives explain, account for, or try to resolve the disaster.

Professor Carl Lindahl

The professor will teach from his knowledge base, using many Western and medieval texts, but as often as possible these examples will contain worldwide variants, especially those relating to Greece and to the content taught by other teachers in the summer school.

1. For example, he will treat U.S. mythic/legendary narratives circulating about the Texas Battle of the Alamo as related to a worldwide pattern of ‘epics of defeat’ [posited by Bruce A. Rosenberg] including accounts of the Greek battle of Thermopylae, the ancient Hebrew battle of Mount Gilboa, and the medieval French Chanson de Roland. Each student will concentrate on those examples that best reflect their varied individual, knowledge and interest.

Other topics include
2. Martyred hero legends
3. Legends centered on natural catastrophes from ancient times to the 21st-century including Hurricane Katrina, the Haiti earthquake, the Grecian fires, and the European migrant crisis – and healing narrative and ritual responses.

Course Schedule

Teaching methods:

2-hour preparation (online), Live sessions: For each of the 3 topics listed above, 1 hour of workshop response,  discussion, consolidation

Assessment – type of evaluation

One written or discussed response on each of the three sections, to be turned in before the workshop or presented in the workshop.

Optional: A written paper or digital presentation based on one of the specific course topics, submitted one month after the conclusion of the live summer school.

Recommended readings

Herodotus on Thermopylae: 
Thucydides on the Plague of Athens: Text & Commentary:–commentar/
Pliny the Younger, The A.D. 79 Eruption at Mt. Vesuvius:
Armstrong, Henry; Charles Darensbourg; and Harris, Sidney; Personal Narratives of Hurricane Katrina, In Second Line Rescue: Improvised Responses to Katrina and Rita. Jackson: UP of Mississippi. 2013. 134-52, 235-47, 190-204.
Bruce A. Rosenberg, “Custer: The Legend of the Martyred Hero in America,” Journal of the Folklore Institute 9 (1972): 110-32.
Bruce A. Rosenberg , “Kennedy in Camelot: The Arthurian Legend in America,” Western Folklore 35 (1976 ): 52-9.
Carl Lindahl, “Ostensive Healing: Pilgrimage to the San Antonio Ghost Tracks,” Journal of American Folklore 118: 468 (2005): 164-85
Carl Lindahl, “Legends of Hurricane Katrina: The Right to Be Wrong, Survivor-to-Survivor Storytelling, and Healing,” Journal of American Folklore 125 (2012): 139-54, 159-78.
Carl Lindahl, “Survivor-to-Survivor Disaster Narration and Community Self-Healing.” In Still Here: Memoirs of Trauma, Illness, and Loss. Ed. B. Avieson et al. London: Routledge, 2019. Pp. 129-42.
Carl Lindahl, “Missing Finishes and Diminishing Heroes in Hurricane Katrina Survivor Stories.” Journal of American Folklore (2021) 134 (532): 165–79.

Recommended reading on legend:
Robert Burns, “Halloween,” 1785
Linda Dégh, “The Crack in the Red Goblet, or Truth in Modern Legend” in Narratives in Society: A Performer-Centered Study of Narration (Folklore Fellows Communications no. 255), Helsinki 1994: 152-70
Linda Dégh, “Does the Word ‘Dog’ Bite? Ostensive Action: A Means of Legend Telling.” Journal of Folklore Research 20 (1983): 5-34.
Bill Ellis, “When Is a Legend?” chapter 4 of Aliens, Ghosts, and Cults: Legends We Live Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2003, 58-74
Carl Lindahl, “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Myth in Its Time,” in Telling Tales: Medieval Narratives and the Folk Tradition, ed. Francesca Canade Sautman et al., NY: St. Martin’s, 1998, 249-67.
Max Lüthi, “Aspects of the Marchen and the Legend,” in Folklore Genres, ed. Dan Ben-Amos: Austin: U of Texas Press,1975, 17-33.

Recommended videos available on Youtube:

On Custer’s Last Stand: Our History: Exposing The Myths Of Little Bighorn And General Custer,
On Thermopylae: The Battle of Thermopylae: How 300 Spartans Held Off Thousands of Persians,
On Pompeii: Pompeii: The Last Day.
On The Alamo: The Alamo: The Real Story. Wild West History Documentary.

2. Course title: “Full of Gods’: The Satyr Matrix in Myth and Reality”

Teacher: Gail Cooper, Private scholar in Classics, USA

Course description and objectives

The Satyr doesn’t really always have a lot of mythology — unless you want to count human history.
He’s often more purely a mythic construct. The ancient Athenians took him to mean that, when there was a comedy being performed — a Satyr-play with its chorus of Satyrs or an Old Comedy satire — the human-animal spirit of the Satyr had come to town.

As befit a human (party) animal like the Satyr, these enactments aimed to include the outrageous, with lots of unseemly juvenile jokes and ithyphallic costumes. But they also were telling send-ups of prominent figures: so the stage was a riot of Man, the political animal.

In the end these productions were quite real in the sense that their political commentary and its effects could ‘hit the nail’ and mold public opinion.

Private Scholar Gail Cooper

They not only permitted, they traded on human-animal political instinct, straight out of barnyard pecking-order: If you want to wield power and influence, sneer at others and expose some uncomfortable truth about them; get people’s attention and get them on your side by making them laugh. Uncork any corked-up resentments the audience might have (or create some if they don’t have any). It was bloodless political warfare that was going on up there — and very real.

It was based on their deep understanding of how one can mold a society by emotionally energizing and tapping into high-intensity mass dynamics. There were demagogues in the city leading people astray with these methods, so putting on comedy was the thinking Athenians’ opportunity to fight fire with fire and strike a blow for sanity.

These techniques, grounded in universal human animal instinct, never fail to operate. The Satyr principle is quite real — so much the Greeks of antiquity knew.

We’ll be going beyond what they knew, to the mythic structures of superstition, founded in instinct and primality, that frame childhood’s magical thinking with its hopes of controlling the world through the use of ‘invisible strings.’

In looking at our primary source material, we’ll see how such thinking can carry over in the undersocialized adult into the selfsame, human-animal project to satirize and undermine his society by amassing a following of unthinking individuals, using high-intensity stimuli like sensational lies and pecking-order appeals to inequity and injustice.

Underdeveloped ‘thinking’ of this sort being the human species’ animal default, and people in mass contexts being most susceptible to appeals to human animal instincts, we will examine contexts in which such destructive mindsets and beliefs have managed to seat in and win acceptance as cultural imperatives and norms. In ancient Greek conception the Satyr was thought to be chaotically ‘full of gods’; certainly anytime he is present, reality is on the chopping block, and the sky’s the limit. But as the Greeks also knew, it is drama that gets one closest to comprehending the gods of the irrational. 

Our source material will therefore foreground examples from film to help us to identify the continuing influence of the Satyr’s mind in our own reality. This will enable us to contrast exempla from traditional Asian culture, whose experience with archaic mythic structures inflexibly embedded in their society is particularly clear; to those from the American (Wild) West, wherein an ethnically contested landscape ignited a ‘wide-open’ quasi-culture and a no-holds-barred, competitive race to the top (or bottom, depending on how you want to look at it) among unchecked, exceptional, and therefore seemingly superhuman, larger-than-life and timelessly magnetic, renegade alpha-males.

But if the maddening/terrifying/hypnotic, elusive and historically ‘undead’ Satyr informs both extremes of Far East and Far West, is this not a contradiction in terms? Absolutely. Striking the ancients as at once inchoate infant and intoxicant dotard, the Satyr’s stupifiant stock in trade, apart from herding domesticated and (other) human animals, is to both follow uncritically and lead recklessly as part of the train of the Dionysiac irrational; and through what puzzled scholars have finally decided can only be very generally characterized as his ‘disruptive’ incursions into the polis’ territory of human normalcy, order, and reason, push us to try to track him so we can figure out what can be the definition and pattern of human chaos.

Both the scientific and social sciences have reached understandings that validate much of the ancients’ mapping of the Satyr and his perplexing terrain. They have helped as well to clarify to students of letters the scope and essence of what mythic traditions have recognized since distant antiquity as comprising the Satyr’s complex matrix. Still, as it is only in mythic thought and mythic form that the Satyr, in being foundational to aboriginal, mythic mind, fully expresses, illuminates, reveals, and disseminates itself, any approach that omits to study narrative and the faculty of the imaginary is unable fully to cross the boundaries of psycho-social upheaval and engage with its ultimate aetiology and its baked-in, latent potential as human motive force.

Legend from antiquity has it that, despite his rude and foolish, unpromising exterior, the Satyr has a certain wisdom and holds great secrets; that, if he can once be captured, he can be made to share.

I think we would have to agree.

Course Schedule

Teaching methods:

There will be a 3-hr remote presentation; and a 1-hour, in-person presentation to the program’s attendees. In two subsequent, shorter live sessions we will discuss the requested source material

Assessment – type of evaluation

Final work during assessment preparation will allow students to choose from primary sources in several topic areas, corresponding to their individual interests. Students will be asked to write up and submit at a later date their commentary and observations on one or more of their chosen sources as those relate to our survey of the Satyr. The primary source materials grouped within each area of interest are designed to be considered intertextually and will reveal more of the nuances relating our topic, the more sources that the student includes in his/her individual selected survey. Scheduled collaboration with the instructor can be part of individualized exploration.

Recommended readings

(Please try to check out one version of each work, I-VIII; seeing the films is actually preferred.)

On Far Eastern Culture:
I: *Rashomon (Film/Japanese, 1950, 88 minutes, Akira Kurosawa, Dir.)
Available through Criterion & Amazon
Based on:
*‘Rashomon’ (Short story/Japanese, Ryunosuke Akutagawa, 1915, 3-9); and
*‘In a Bamboo Grove’ (Short story/Japanese, Ryunosuke Akutagawa, 1922, 10-19)
Both in Rashomon and Seventeen Other Stories, 2006 (J Rubin, Tr).
Available from Amazon; PDF’s available from instructor
II: *The Ballad of Narayama (Film/Japanese, 1958, 98 minutes, Keisuke Kinoshita, Dir)
Available from Criterion
(This film version is the more stylized of the two, with built sets instead of outdoor realism, which gives it a kabuki atmospheric.)
*The Ballad of Narayama (Film/Japanese, 1983, 130 minutes, Shohei Imamura, Dir)
Available through Amazon (This version more aligns with the tradition of ‘sixty canyon abandonment’)
*The Ballad of Narayama, or Old Woman (Novelette, Shichiro Fukazawa, 1956; tr into English by John Bester, Japan Quarterly 1957, 4 Apr-Jun, 200-32)
(JP largely unavailable; PDF available from instructor)
*‘Mountain Where Old People Were Abandoned,’ Folktales of Japan (Ed: Seki; Tr: Adams; Frwd: Dorson), 222-25; U/Chicago Press, 1963; or in Folktales Told around the World, Dorson, 243-45; U/Chicago Press, 1975.
This folktale, localized in this case in Japan, has been found also in India, China, and throughout Europe.
(PDF available from instructor)
III: *Paths of Glory (Film/US, 1957, 88 minutes, Stanley Kubrick, Dir)
(The novel was based on an actual WW I event, the Souain Corporals Affair)
Available through Criterion & Amazon
*Paths of Glory (Novel, Humphrey Cobb, 1935, 180 pp; Penguin Ed 2010)
How the Satyr is Typically Represented:
IV/A: *’Hell Screen’ (Short story/Ryunosuke Akutagawa, 42=73)
IV/B: *‘Horse Legs’ (Short story/Ryunosuke Akutagawa, 130-43) (PDF available from instructor)
Both stories also in Rashomon and Seventeen Other Stories
On Far Western Culture:
V: *Slow West (Film/UK & New Zealand, 2015, 91 mins, John Maclean, Dir./Screenwriter)
Available through Amazon
VI: *The Power of the Dog (Film/Brit Commonwealth, 2021, 126 mins, Jane Campion, Dir)
Available through Amazon
*The Power of the Dog (Novel, Thomas Savage, 1967, 304 pp)
VII: *Dead Man (Film/US, 1995, 120 mins, Jim Jarmusch, Dir/Writer)
Available through Amazon & Criterion
On Childhood/Magical Thinking:
VIII: ‘Blackberry Winter’ (Short story, Robert Penn Warren, 1946, 25 pp)
(Based on the author’s memories of his Kentucky childhood)

3. Course title: “The therapy of fear: dealing with the difficult in folk narrative”


Camilla Asplund Ingemark, Senior Lecturer in Ethnology, Department of Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology, Uppsala University and

Dominic Ingemark, Senior Lecturer in Classical Archaeology and Ancient History, Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, Uppsala University, Sweden

Course description and objectives

Storytelling in Antiquity had multiple functions: while stories could be employed as instruments of socialization and persuasion, they could also edify and clarify, as well as having a therapeutic role in consoling and comforting. They could be used as entertainment, to either amuse or terrify. Moreover, they worked as a means to make tedious tasks as well as travel easier. This multifunctionality was what made them effective. In this course we will focus on two core functions: socialization and therapy.

Storytelling was a powerful tool in influencing peoples’ behaviour, a means to make them take the right course of actions, to do what was perceived as right. Far from only being a tool to foster children, stories played an equally important role in the socialization of adults. In other words, stories often carried a moral message: such as to get married, to marry the right person and keep a careful watch over one’s children to protect them from any harm. Sometimes this message was clearly outspoken, in other cases it could be hidden, at times behind a humorous façade.

Professor Camilla Asplund Ingemark

Professor Dominic Ingemark

But despite the best efforts to hinder any form of harm to happen to one’s family, the most vulnerable in society, young children and childbearing women, passed away. This had to be dealt with emotionally and another core function of storytelling was therapeutic. In Greco-Roman antiquity the blame for these deaths was placed outside of society on envious demons and cruel witches, and in folk belief there were different magical means of protecting one’s family against such threats.    

While using the Greco-Roman past as a case study in our lecture, these concepts are applicable to other cultures and other periods, and in the seminar we will open up to bring in the students’ areas of interest.

Course Schedule

Teaching methods:

Two-hour lecture (online), Three-hour seminar in Athens, Discussion, Consolidation

Assessment – type of evaluation

The assessment will be in the form of a shorter written essay within the abovementioned theme, but on a specific topic of the student’s own choice. The results will be discussed and debated in the seminar.

Recommended readings

Ingemark, Dominic & Asplund Ingemark, Camilla, ”Socialization: Fairytales as vehicles of moral messages”, in: A Cultural History of Fairy Tales In Antiquity, Felton, Debbie (ed.), Bloomsbury Academic, London 2021, 149–168.

Asplund Ingemark, Camilla & Ingemark, Dominic, ”More than Scapegoating – The Therapeutic Potential of Stories of Child-killing demons in Ancient Greece and Rome”, in: The Therapeutic Uses of Storytelling – An Interdisciplinary Approach to Narration as Therapy, Asplund Ingemark, Camilla (ed.), Nordic Academic Press, Lund 2013, 75–84.

Asplund Ingemark, Camilla & Ingemark, Dominic, chapter 7. “Barren relations”, in: Representations of Fear – Verbalising Emotion in Ancient Roman Folk Narrative (Folklore Fellows Communications no. 320), Academia Scientiarum Fennica, Helsinki 2020, 127–164.

Topic 3: Narrating in modern and contemporary society


1. Course title: “Stories about (telling and constructing) stories”

Teacher: Licia Masoni, Associate Professor of English Language, University of Bologna

Course description and objectives

Narrative and the participation in storytelling is an essential need and tool for socialization; in constructing stories we construct our communities. We cannot live without stories to tell and we can hardly refrain from sharing the stories we own.

During this course, by means of examples from literature and the lecturer’s fieldwork, we will tell, compare and discuss “stories about (telling) stories”, with particular reference to folktales that recount how individuals share, shape and spin stories; how people who do not seem to have stories end up finding one; how some who do have a story within them refuse to tell it and share it; while others seem to live in order to tell tales,  seeking storiable life experiences they can later relay in the form of narrative. 

Professor Licia Masoni

Where did and do everyday stories come from? Tradition and experience hand us a certain amount of ready-made narratives we can ‘use’ on different occasions for multiple purposes; while other stories come to us from striking personal experience, from divine inspiration (myth), or from careful reshaping and recombining of traditional motifs. Sooner or later, we are all called to share (our) stories, so much so that in many folk traditions around the world we can find narratives about the dangers deriving from the refusal to tell/share/pass on the stories we have inside us. In these tales, the public performance of stories appears to play a central role in the negotiation of relationships between individuals and community, as well as personal and collective: the analysis of these stories affords a number of reflections on tradition bearing, creativity, story ownership, storytelling rights and duty to tell. Moving between tradition and adaptation, we will look at how even personal narratives become (and come from) folklore, if anything because they are recognized as storiable by the community in which they are told (because they are deemed in line with their idea of story and with their immediate needs). How does all this relate to the concept of narrative repertoire, how do storytellers’ repertoires negotiate story ownership and community imaginings? And lastly, if we believe narratives can help us navigate through life, how can we effectively transmit to new generations narrative repertoires they can borrow from, creatively recraft, and critically question, in order to understand and negotiate relationships and walk through life with valuable (and portable) allies. We will work around these questions and many more arising during the course, by means of workshops organised around specific narratives and their variants (provided by the teacher and (hopefully) by the participants). 

Course Schedule

Teaching methods:

Two-hour lecture (online),  Three-hour seminar in Athens,  Discussion, Consolidation

Assessment – type of evaluation

The assessment will be in the form of a shorter written essay within the abovementioned themes, but on a specific topic of the student’s own choice. The results will be discussed and debated in the seminar.

Optional: A written paper or digital presentation based on one of the specific course topics, submitted one month after the conclusion of the live summer school.

Recommended readings

Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, B., 2013. A parable in context: A social interactional analysis of storytelling performance. In Folklore (pp. 105-130). De Gruyter Mouton.
Masoni L., “Eliciting Laughter in a Changing Community: Humorous Narratives as Coping Tools and as Narrative Currency to Buy Reintegration”, Fabula 52/1, 2011, pp. 17 – 31.
Masoni,L. “Two Different Approaches to the Retelling of Traditional Tales Among ‘Non-Storytellers’ in a North Italian Village”, Fabula 48, 2007, pp. 33 – 49.
Niles, J.D., 2006. Bede’s Cædmon,“The Man Who Had No Story”(Irish Tale-Type 2412B). Folklore 117(2), pp.141-155.
Ramanujan, A.K., 1989. Telling tales. Daedalus, 118(4), p.238.
Shuman, A., 2006. Storytelling rights: The uses of oral and written texts by urban adolescents (No. 11). Cambridge University Press.
Shuman, A., 2006. Entitlement and empathy in personal narrative. Narrative inquiry, 16(1), pp.148-155.
Stahl, S.K., 1977. The personal narrative as folklore. Journal of the Folklore Institute, pp.9-30.
 Stahl, S. K. D. “The Oral Personal Narrative in Its Generic Context” , vol. 18, no. Jahresband, 1977, pp. 18-39.

2. Course title: “Folk narratives and communities in transition in rural Greece (19th-21th centuries)”

Teacher: Marianthi Kaplanoglou, Professor of Folklore Studies, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

Course description and objectives

Oral traditions are open-ended processes shaped by the inter-play between individually generated variations on the one hand, and selection criteria upheld by historically changing communities on the other (according Francisco Vaz da Silva).  This course introduces how fragile and ever-changing mythical expressions were reshaped in rural and maritime communities of Greece. Folk narratives were perceived in local mentalities as a framework for understanding social relations.  First, focus is on the pressures which exercise to the underprivileged the transition from pre-capitalistic forms of survival to commercial capitalism during the last decades of the 19th and the 20th century. Local narrators assumed a central position by addressing burning social matters, mainly success or fail to fulfill one’s expected social role. Second, we will examine contemporary everyday village life and specific conditions of narration today. The constant reappropriation of existing plots and the diversity of oral performance situations in Greece are emphasized on the basis of particular cases, like the insular communities of the Aegean sea during past and recent decades.

Professor Marianthi Kaplanoglou

We are going to study a diversity of folk narrative genres, generic constraints and intertwining. Focus is on local and personal variations but also on their international connections.  Sources are provided by the manuscript collections of historical and folklore archives, as well as micro-data collected from long term field research. 

The following issues are explored:

  • The development of specific narrative conditions and opportunities in unofficial gatherings, like geitonema, veggera, sergianni, rouga, all terms designing the proximity in space and emotions of familiarity. 

  • The examination of specific folk narrators and their repertoires and the exploration of the mythic core of certain stories, like epic adventurous stories, the cycle of Stachtopouta (the Greek Cinderella), the magic tale of the Danced-out shoes,  cautionary and horror stories, proverbial myths etc.

  • The cultural specificity of symbols in Greek social and cultural contexts but also their alignment with narrative traditions from Europe and the Mediterranean.

Course Schedule

Teaching methods:

1-hour preparation (online), Live sessions: 1-hour lecture, a 4-hours workshop to be conducted in two sessions, Discussion, Consolidation

Assessment – type of evaluation

One individual student exercise while still being at their home universities.
Student group presentation and discussion on the practice of fieldwork methods.
Small assignment where folk narrative procedures from different areas are compared.

Recommended readings

Avdikos, Evangelos Gr. (2013), Vampire Stories in Greece and the Reinforcement of Socio-Cultural Norms. Folklore 124, no. 3: 307-326.
Ben-Amos, Dan (2021). Introduction to the Special Issue “The Challenge of Folklore to the Humanities”. Humanities 10-18.
Ben-Amos, Dan (1992). Do We Need Ideal Types (in Folklore)? An Address to Lauri Honko. NIF Papers no. 2. Nordic Institute of Folklore, Turku: 1-35.
Kaplanoglou, Marianthi (2016), “Spinning and cannibalism in the Greek ‘Cinderella’: Symbolic analogies in Folktale and Myth”, Folklore, 127:1, 1-25.
Kaplanoglou, Marianthi (2021), «Enchantment in pieces: from Folktale Utopia to Generic Hybridity in Modern Greek Folk Narratives» in Nemanja Radulović and Smiljana Đorđević Belić (ed.). Disenchantment, Re-enchantment and Folklore Genres. Institute for Literature and Art, Belgrade, 43-65.
Lindahl, Carl (2011). Female Narrators, Protagonists, and Villains of the American Mountain Märchen. Fabula 52/ Heft 1/2: 1-15.
Masoni, Licia (2007). Two Different Approaches to the Retelling of Traditional Tales Among ‘Non-Storytellers’ in a North Italian Village. Fabula 48/ 1-2: 33-49.
Meraklis, M. G. (2011), Griechenland. Enzyklopädie des Märchens, Band 6. De Gruyter, Berlin, Boston: 142-161.
Puchner, Walter (2009), Studien zur Volkskunde Südosteuropas und des mediterranen Raums. Böhlau.
Simonsen, Michèle (2019), Comment distinguer entre conte et légende: critères internes, critères externes Estudis de Literatura Oral Popular / Studies in Oral Folk Literature 8: 99-107.
Vaz da Silva, Francisco (2012). Tradition without end. Στο Regina F. Bendix & Galit Hasan-Rokem (ed.). A Companion to Folklore. Wiley Blackwell: 40-54

3. Course title: “Contemporary Legends and Urban Fears in the modern world”

George Katsadoros, Associate Professor of Folklore, Department of Primary Education, University of the Aegean and
Aphrodite Nounanaki, PhD on Folklore Studies, Pedagogical Department of Primary Education, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

Course description and objectives

In this course, narrative forms circulating modern fears are going to be examined. Initially, contemporary legends as a genre of folk literature will be examined, along with their origins, topics, features and the relevant theoretical debate. Contemporary legends emerged after the Industrial Revolution, incorporating elements of modernity into its former counterpart, legends. Thus, Greek preindustrial legend is going to be introduced, as well as other related narrative genres mirroring fearful aspects of the modern world. In genres examined the element of faith will be discussed, as it refers to fear in several ways. We will also reflect on the way metaphysical and cosmical fears are becoming manageable by man through narratives. Fear is also a tool of manipulation and social control. Thus, narratives have always been employed to sustain or debate on social norms. Still a good fright is not always a negative experience. It can also be a means for entertainment. Contemporary/urban legends, myth, conspiracy theories, fake news, hoaxes, rumours, gossip, memorates and fabulates, ghost stories, alien stories, scarry stories and creepypasta will be presented and discussed on the above given framework.

Nowadays, the spread of these genres essentially circulates through the Internet and gains new momentum and perspective, especially after the establishment of web 2.0. therefore the Internet as an environment full of folkloric data will be examined as well, under the scope of Digital Folklore. 

Professor George Katsadoros

Instructor Aphrodite Nounanaki

Course Schedule

Teaching methods:

1-hour preparation (online),
live sessions: 2-hour lecture, 3-hour seminar, Discussion, Consolidation

Assessment – type of evaluation

Completion of small assignments of a written essay which will be presented with a brief Power Point in class.

Recommended readings

Banks Th. & Banks, J. (2007). “The Usefulness of Ghost Stories.” In Haunting Experiences: Ghosts in Contemporary Folklore. (ed.) Goldstein D. E., Grider, S. A., Banks, J. & Banks Th. Logan: Utah State University Press, 25–59.
Blank T. & McNeill L. (ed.) (2018). Slender Man is coming. Creepypasta and contemporary Legends on the Internet. USA: University Press of Colorado.
Blank, T. J. (2007). “Examining the Transmission of Urban Legends: Making the Case for Folklore Fieldwork on the Internet”. Folklore Forum 37.1: 15-26.
Blank, T. J. (2009). Folklore and the Internet: Vernacylar Expression in the Digital World. USA: Utah State University Press. 
Brednich, R. (2001).  Where They Originated… Some Contemporary Legends and Their Literary Origins. Paper presented at ISCLR Congress, Melburn Australia.
Brunvand, J.H. (2012 [2002]). Encyclopedia of Urban Legends. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company.
Smith, P. (1991a). “Rumour, Gossip and Hearsay: The Folklore of a Pandemic”. in (ed.) Goldstein, D., AIDS, the Social Sciences and Local Community. St. John’s: Institute for Social an Economic Research, 95-121.
Smith, P. (1991b). “Contemporary legend and popular culture: ‘it’s the real thing’”. Contemporary Legend, Vo. 1, 123-152.
Smith, P. (1995). “Contemporary Legends: Prosaic Narratives?”. Folklore, 106: 98-100.
Dégh, L. & Vazsonyi,  A. (1971). “Legend and Belief”. Genre 4: 281-304.
Dégh, L. (1991). “What Is the Legend After All?”. Contemporary Legend 1, 11-38
Goss, M. (1992). “Alien Big Cat Sightings in Britain: A Possible Rumour Legend?”. Folklore, Vo. 103, II, 184-202.
Campion-Vincent V. (2007). Rumors and Urban Legends. Diogenes. 54(1):162-199.
Clarke, St. (2002). “Conspiracy Theories and Conspiracy Theorising”. Philosophy of Social Sciences 32 (2): 131–150.
Tangherlini, T.R. (1990). “‘It Happened Not Too Far From Here…’: a Survey of Legend Theory and characterization”. Western Folklore 49: 371-390.
Van Prooijen, J.-W., Douglas, K. M., & de Inocencio, C. (2018). Connecting the dots: Pattern perception predicts belief in conspiracies and the supernatural. European Journal of Social Psychology, 48, 320–335.
Lialina, O. & Espenschied D. (eds.) (2009). Digital Folklore. To Computers Users with Love and Respect. Stuttgart: Merz & Solitude.

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