Literature

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.

Image credit: Tsukioka Yoshitoshiderivative work: AMorozov -...

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.

Image credit: Jeanniot...

Ramayana

Image from the Ramayana

The Ramayana originated in north India as an oral epic poem, performed with musical accompaniment and dance. Written, illustrated manuscripts of the poem were later produced from Pakistan to Indonesia. This means that the Ramayana has expressions in oral performance, dance, music, literature, and illustration. Modern iterations of the tale extend to film, television, comic books, and animation....

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.

Epic of Gilgamesh

Close-up of cuneiform tablet

See images of some of the original tablets. Learn about the history of writing. Hear parts of the epic read in the original Akkadian.

Ramayana Resources

Scene from the epic Ramayana: Kumbhakarna battles the monkeys, 1100-1200 CE, former kingdom of Angkor

Read summaries of the narrative, including one illustrated with art from different regions. See a beautiful digitized version of the tale. Watch a controversial modern film based on the epic.

Migration & Diaspora

Summer Institute for Community College Teachers

May 31 - June 2, 2018

The 2018 Summer Institute for Community College instructors will consider migration and diaspora from the standpoints of wide-ranging disciplines, including history, anthropology, sociology, journalism, and international law. Join your teaching colleagues in this exploration of human migrations of the distant past, causes of migration, the subjective experiences of both new migrants and those living in long-established diasporas, and current issues in global migration....

Sundiata Plot Summary

This plot summary of the Sundiata epic organizes the tale using the Monomyth structure.


Call to Adventure

The young prince Sunjata has grown so popular in Niani that Queen Sassouma is jealous and fears that the people will prefer him as king to her own son, Dankaran Touman. Determined to rid herself of the young prince, Sassouma orders the nine great witches of Mali to deceive and murder him. However, when they actually encounter Sunjata, they are so impressed with his kindness and generosity that they...