CHW 3M: Origin Stories

Today, you and small group of intrepid peers will embark on a thrilling adventure: you will study a civilization of your choice for the next week or so.

Where to start? Well, with origin stories. Whether it is Peter Parker’s encounter with a irradiated spider or humans being spun into existence on an Egyptian god’s pottery wheel, origin stories resonate. They say something profound about the human condition. Batman? The dark knight’s path was set the moment his parents were executed in front of him.  Superman? He has two sets of parents: from one, he inherits genetic code that makes him incredibly powerful on earth, but from the other, he inherited basic values about right and wrong. He is as much Clark Kent as he is being from Krypton.

The origin stories of civilizations tell us even more, for they also tell us something profound about that civilization’s world view. Does their origin story involve conflict? Good vs. evil? The natural world? Whatever the answer, the origin story is really a story about a civilization’s view of itself.

How to proceed? Let’s do the following:

  1. agree on the civilization you want to study (you can change civilizations throughout this mini-unit, but sticking with one civilization may help you appreciate continuity and change
  2. find either the creation myth or the founding myth of the civilization. Your sources may come from any medium, as long as the source is reputable.
  3. Add a quick summary of the story to your notes
  4. As a group, answer this question and add your response to your notes: what inferences can we make about this civilization’s world view based on its myths?




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