WR-240: Myths and Symbols: Deciphering the Messages of Sacred Traditions

Liberal Arts
Religious Studies
Academic Level
Course Subject
World Religions
Course Number
Course Title
Myths and Symbols: Deciphering the Messages of Sacred Traditions
Credit Hours
Instructor Contact Hours Per Semester
47.00 (for 15-week classes)
Student Contact Hours Per Semester
47.00 (for 15-week classes)
Grading Method
Eligible to take ENG courses at HFC.
Catalog Course Description

Introduces the academic study of religious myths. Examines spiritual and religious perspectives of cultures as sources of myths. Analyzes symbols, themes, and plots, enabling the student to identify common characteristics and patterns in myths originating in various cultures and religions throughout human history.

Goals, Topics, and Objectives

Core Course Topics
  1. Introduction to the study of world mythology
    1. Characteristics of mythology
    2. Themes, symbolism and meaning in mythology
    3. Analytical approaches to mythology
  2. Mythology of Various Cultures
    1. Egyptian
    2. Mesopotamian
    3. Greek
    4. Roman
    5. Indian
    6. Western monotheistic religions
  3. Comparison and Analysis of Mythology
    1. Creation myths
    2. Flood myths
    3. Morality myths
    4. Hero myths
    5. Myths pertaining to experience of death
    6. Myths pertaining to end of the world
Core Course Learning Objectives (Separated)
  1. Decipher and compare and contrast some main themes and symbols present in myths originating in various religions and cultures.*
  2. Distinguish the unique characteristics of myths as well as the spiritual contribution of myths within respective religions or cultures.
  3. Analyze the influence of ancient myths on modern North American culture.
  4. Identify and analyze symbolic meanings of myths in religious texts.
  5. Identify and analyze the transmission as well as progression of symbols and schemas of religious myths throughout human history.
  6. Demonstrate a respectful tolerance for and understanding of diverse religious and cultural perspectives.

Assessment and Requirements

Assessment of Academic Achievement

Assessment methods are left to the discretion of departmental faculty. Such methods could include objective style tests, essays, research papers, journals, projects, etc.

  1. Mythology:  The Illustrated Anthology of World Myth & Storytelling, C.   Scott Littleton, General Editor, Duncan Baird Publishers, 2002.
  2. A Short History of Myth, Karen Armstrong, Canongate, 2005.
  3. Thou Art That, Joseph Campbell,New World Library, 2001.
  4. Parallel Myths, J.F. Bierlein, Ballantine Wellspring – The Random House Publishing Group, 1994.
  5. World Mythology, Roy Willis, General Editor,OxfordUniversity Press, 1993, 2006.
  6. Myth:  A Biography of Belief, David Leeming,OxfordUniversity Press, 2002.


General Education Categories
  • Humanities and Fine Arts
Institutional Outcomes
  • Civil Society and Culture - U.S. and Global
  • Humanities
MTA Categories
  • Category 5: Humanities and Fine Arts
Satisfies Wellness Requirement

Credit for Prior College-Level Learning

Options for Credit for Prior College-Level Learning
Other Details

Determined by department

Approval Dates

Effective Term
Fall 2022
ILT Approval Date
AALC Approval Date
Curriculum Committee Approval Date
Review Semester
Fall 2022