Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Looking for "Modern" Mythology Suggestions.

As some of you know, for my teaching position (squee), I am teaching two sections of mythology. I have already purchased a few books in some key areas (Greek, Norse, and Native American), but now I am looking for suggestions for something a little different.

I am wondering if anyone has any suggestion for books with more modern types of myths. Someone suggested I dive into comic and super heroes as a way to bridge the gap between ancient and modern day. Does a big old reference book exist for this? Do you have another suggestion? I would love any titles you can give me!


  1. There's a great comic about the Norse Gods, created by a Danish artist called Peter Madsen. There's a link to it here:
    Of course, this is not a modern myth - but it is a modern way of telling it.
    Also, I suppose you've heard of the 100 - a comic book with superheroes, each impersonating one of Mohammad's traits. I wrote a post about it here:
    Both of these might be useful in your teaching - to show other ways to tell mythology, maybe to inspire the kids to do their own retellings of myths.

  2. Maybe some mythology that blends other two? I'm thinking of the Irish one!

  3. Even though it's not direct, Watchmen is very mythological to me. But it's been awhile, so I can't remember if it's high school appropriate.

    If you decide to go the comic/GN route, please read Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud. It's a quick read, but it's a great reference. I include a section from it each semester before I teach Persepolis, and it's a huge help. Let me know if you want me to send you the sections.

    1. Strangely, my Rhetoric class used Understanding Comics right before we looked at Persepolis too. Interesting.

  4. American Gods by Neil Gaiman! I'm not so good on reference type stuff, but graphic novel series like the Sandman or the Fables series are pretty good for modern interpretations on myths and fairy tale. Also The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter- again more fairytale than mythology. Don't know if any of those will be any help, but they're all great and worth reading anyway!

  5. Definitely American Gods by Gaiman. And what about urban legends? They're kind of the fairy tales of today. As far as a big reference book, have you tried searching in Worldcat?

  6. Thirding Neil Gaiman's American Gods and Ananasi Boys. Also, his Sandman Graphic Novels have a lot of mythology.

    Graphic novels and comics do have a lot of modern myths. Another series I like is Promethea by Alan Moore. He is very mytholigical and incorporates a lot of spirituality, cultures, religions and philosphy in his work.

    I have noticed that there is a trend of incorporating mythology or magic into modern books now. A lot of urban fantasy teen novels have this as well, but are not strictly mythological. I think it's an evolution from magical realism.

  7. I think Irish/Celtic lore (there's always the legend of the Leprechaun) and Comic Book/Graphic Novel legends are actually very good suggestions.

    In addition, what about Arthurian Legend and/or the Merlin mythologies? T.A. Barron and Jane Yolen have fantastic middle grade texts for the Merlin mythologies (lower than your students' reading levels, but could still be fun to discuss) and the Mary Stewart Merlin Trilogy (adult level) is also fantastic.

    If you go that route, you could also include Alex Epstein's The Circle Cast, which about Morgan Le Fay's youth. In addition to the mythology, there's a lot of great history about the Rise of Christianity and the fall of paganism in Britain and Ireland.

    Could you also do something with Spenser's The Fairie Queene or some Asian folklore (the Legend of the Samurai or The Crane?). I'm sure Chinese and Japanese mythology are equally rich, though I don't know much about either, to be honest.

    I'll keep thinking!

  8. It does sound like American Gods, Anansi Boys and Watchmen would fall into this category. Watchmen is more in the superhero genre, but it is so good!

  9. I do think it's a great idea to bridge the gap with comics!!! No books come to mind immediately, but the idea is a good one overall. I did some work with this in grad school, too, so if you have database access there might be some articles, or parts of articles, that would introduce the ideas.

  10. I like the idea of including comics or graphic novels. I agree with Picky's recommendation of Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud. We used it in the graphic novel section of my Rhetoric class, and it was very helpful and surprisingly readable.

    As for other options, have you considered American and/or African-American folktales? I've heard that Mules and Men by Zora Neale Hurston is excellent for that.

  11. American mythology might include Paul Bunyan, Casey Jones, John Henry and Johnny Appleseed. I'm sure there must be some African and African-American myths, but I don't know what they are. I too suggest you read American Gods; it might give you some ideas for a writing assignment for the students.

  12. Are you looking for fiction books? We read Abandon by Meg Cabot in my goodreads group which was pretty good. Also there is a thread on there that people suggest mythology books... here is the link:


    Angela's Anxious Life

  13. If you're looking for YA books that fit the bill, then the Starcrossed trilogy by Josephine Angelini works - there are scions (demigods) and a fair bit of Greek mythology is sprinkled in. Also, and I add this reluctantly as it is not a very strong contender, but House of Night - it also looks at mythology.