The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

NW class analyzes myth, magic in modern stories

By Rhiannon Saegert/nw news editor

A three-hour Myth and Magic Learning Community has formed on NW Campus.

The course, the equivalent of one humanities class and one English composition class, focuses on ancient and modern myths and their messages about the human condition.

“What I’m actually wanting people to do is get to the ideas behind the stories. What is the belief in our culture? What makes that idea so important to tell?” said humanities instructor Adrian Cook. “I mean, Harry Potter isn‘t about the magic. It‘s about the choices a young boy makes in the face of such power. The point is using the explanation of phenomenon to explain what is important.”

In class, students discuss what exactly makes a myth a myth and analyze modern stories in those terms, first as a humanities class and then as an English class. For example, students watched The Matrix in class and then discussed the philosophical message behind the film.

“[Myths] are foundational to our belief systems. Religions grow around myths, not the other way around,” Cook said. “Anything with a magical element creates a situation that is so special that we really get to see what the character can do.”

At the halfway point, English instructor LeeAnn Olivier takes over the class, and the focus shifts to the characters, themes and symbolism of the story.

“When we look at TV and film, we look at as is a form of literature, so we analyze those aspects,” Olivier said.

Cook and Olivier had the idea for the learning community last spring.

Oliver says she was teaching English Comp II with a focus on myth and could see similar patterns in classic and contemporary literature.

“Dr. Cook and I realized we were doing the same things in our syllabi, I don’t even remember how, and saw we were using the same ideas, and so we decided to merge the classes into a learning community,” Olivier said.

Students still have writing assignments, but the learning community focuses on class discussions. Questions of personal belief and identity come up frequently. In fact, they’re encouraged.

“I enjoy the diversity. You aren’t judged for your beliefs,” student Cameron Bachman said. “You don’t feel stupid for saying something. Your personal beliefs are definitely not belittled.”

Stephenie Merts, another student, said the class is a welcome break from typical English classes.

“I’ve had Cook before for my Honors Humanities class,” she said. “I took this class because I needed English Comp II, and I’m fascinated by myth and magic. I mean, who wouldn’t want to take this class? It adds more than just learning about MLA format and proper indentation.”

Illustration by Alex Bihm

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