My question is about Mythic Criticism.
Examine mythic stories from Native American, African, Asian, or other non-Western cultures. How do these stories suggest ways of viewing the world different from a Western point of view? Consider the strengths and weaknesses of these contrasting points of view and ways they may complement each other.
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Like the Tain and the Norse ballads in the West, African literature is traditionally orally based, and shares some elements with western literature such as the epic tales and legends, also ancestral legends, 'songs' of praise, funeral speeches and wisdom stories (proverbs.) Myths helped the people to understand the existence of their world and their place within it whereas the epic tales were much more complex constructs of literature, saved for important rituals and rites and often acted out by a select few performers. These performers would re-enact the daring feats of the ancestors. Another strong African tradition is the funeral chant, or dirge, rhythmically repeated during post-death rituals to mourn the loss of a loved one, praising their character and requesting that they be looked after in the next life. The tradition of praising has other manifestations too. Many things could be praised, for example a revered animal or even a local settlement or a respected leader and often village chiefs would have these stories specially commissioned or composed
This could be compared to our 'minstrel' or 'bard' tradition in the west, and there are other comparisons that can be drawn and distinctions and interpretations that can be perceived that are different to those of the west. For example, it is important to remember that even in more modern times, up to half of the African population could not read or write, meaning that the story audience were much more dependent on the tales and the tellers than we are in the west for information about the world, and relied on the narrators for their view of reality - whereas we have the outside influences of the news and social media to balance our beliefs. One example of this would be the re-educating of those engaging in traditional practices which are now considered socially unacceptable by western protection agencies such as the mutilation of body parts, or the punishment culture of shaman or witch doctor culture. Another example might be the banishing of certain unfortunate individuals from their families and villages due to perceived stigma or illness.
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