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.

Yamato

Image of Yamato Takeru from 19th century woodblock print

The tales of Prince Yamato Takeru are told in the Japanese chronicles Kojiki, Nihon Shoki, and others. This image, from a 19th century woodblock print, depicts Yamato as he is about to set off on his adventures.

Yamato Bibliography of Sources

Literary Histories


Keene, Donald. Seeds in the Heart: Japanese Literature from Earliest Times to the Late Sixteenth Century, New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1993.

Konishi, Jin'ichi. A History of Japanese Literature: Volume One. Trans. Aileen Gatten. Princeton: Princeton University press, 1984. (Chapter One: The Kojiki (33-61)).