The View from the Sea: Oceans in World History

Summer Institute for k-12 Educators

June 26 – 28, 2017

World History courses often begin with a survey of river-basin societies, exploring the connection between agricultural surplus, irrigation projects, and centralizing power. Oceans and seas are conceived of as places in between - natural regional boundaries traversed only by merchants and military forces.

But what are the contours of a different World History – one with a view from the sea?

Monomyth: Hero's Journey Project

Joseph Campbell's Monomyth, developed in Hero With A Thousand Faces, describes the common heroic narrative in which a heroic protagonist sets out, has transformative adventures, and returns home. It is a useful formula for comparing literary traditions across time and culture.

Here, ORIAS provides resources to explore and compare three different works through the lens of the Monomyth: Mali's Sunjata, South Asia's Ramayana, and Japan's Yamato.

Sundiata

Sundiata (also spelled Sunjata, Sundjata, or Soundjata) is an oral epic celebrating the life of Sundiata, the founder of the thirteenth-century Mali Empire of West Africa. There are written versions of the epic (just as there are written summaries of movies or film adaptations of books) but its original form is as an oral poem, performed by a jali - a professional bard.