This is a detailed, highly graphic and engaging 3-page PDF essay (summative) assessment to be implemented in a unit on mythology in any ELA course, a Mythology post-secondary course, or a Mythology high school English elective. The activity assumes some working knowledge on the part of the students as well as the instructor of the primary functions of myth -- I have described in this activity as follows:
a.) Allegory of Nature (extended metaphor – eg. the raging sea is moody Greek god, Poseidon)
b.) Primitive Science (explanation of natural phenomena – the first science! — a flood, for example)
c.) Justification of Social Norms (“if the gods / goddesses do it, so can we!” – eg. willful mistreatment of mortals/humans; spousal infidelity, etc.)
d.) Ritual (myth serves to identify origins/reasoning behind rituals – eg. placing flowers on gravestones)
e.) Evocation of a Creative Era (substantiates belief in magic/divinity – eg. cultural obsession in the West, particularly in the United States, of Disney evokes a creative era where “anything was possible”)
f.) Products of Psyche (archetypes of consciousness/universal themes – based on the psychoanalytic thinking of Carl Jung – eg. love is a universal theme/idea across cultures)
The summative essay assessment also invites students to either read for the first time or read on their own after whole class readings (up to instructor discretion and time!) the following myths: the Sumerian myth of Gilgamesh; Egyptian myth of Horus the Hawk/Isis and Osiris; the Greek myths of Perseus, abduction of Persephone, myth(s) about the god Dionysus, or any other Olympian, such as the birth of Aphrodite, myth(s) of Athena, story of Hercules's 12 Labors, and so forth. I have hyperlinked a helpful Purdue/OWL website for MLA formatting as well as hyperlinks for each of the above mentioned myths for easy student/instructor access; feel free to revise this list as appropriate to your needs!
Also in these step-by-step directions at the bottom of page 1 you'll find a cluster diagram for students to identify their ideas about their chosen myth, and I have also provided specific directions for outlining that cluster diagram for a thoughtful, five-paragraph expository literary analysis on the functions of myth which the students' chosen myths serve. The directions for introductory paragraph through body paragraphs and concluding paragraph are all laid out clearly yet succinctly on page 2.
This is quite a deal: all the work is already done for you; student choice is involved! This assessment activity is aligned with Common Core anchor standards for writing AND reading, in an effort to help students meet (& exceed!) ELA critical thinking, innovation/creativity, and media literacy expectations as well as the higher levels of Bloom's Taxonomy (moving beyond remembering, comprehending / understanding to applying, analyzing, evaluating, and synthesizing by writing an original work)!
This activity pairs wonderfully with the PowerPoint presentation Introduction to Mythology also available in my store, which goes over more in-depth the functions, characteristics, history, and uniquenesses of myth (as compared with folk tales, fairy tales, legends, etc.). It would also work well with any other activity in my store on Mythology (I have several: it is a passion of mine!).
Thanks for visiting my store, and I look forward to your feedback. Enjoy!