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Mythic Power

Dr. Amy Sturgis, professor of liberal studies, comments on the power and popularity of myths in literature and movies, in an article in the July 10 Denver Post that examines why “America’s 21st century has been particularly awash in it, with a bulk of the age’s signature entertainment events reveling in myth.”

Harry Potter and a long line of other cultural touchstones – from the medieval epic poem “Beowulf,” to the cinematic tales of Luke Skywalker – are “linked,” says Amy Sturgis, a myth scholar based at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn.
“There are certain aspects – the quest, the coming of age, the hero on a journey – that we see over and over again,” she says.
Another theme, she says: “The idea that there is a birthright and a destiny that the person has to embrace, and that there may be larger peoples or nations attached to it. If they succeed, everyone succeeds, if he fails, a lot of people besides himself will be hurt.”
While artists have toyed with myth for a long time, America’s 21st century has been particularly awash in it, with a bulk of the age’s signature entertainment events reveling in myth.
This year alone began with “Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith” in the spring, followed by “Batman Begins” last month. Next comes the Potter book Saturday, quickly trailed by the film adaptation of the fourth Harry Potter book in November. In December, Hollywood unveils its go at “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” the first of yet another seven-volume wallow in fantasy, “The Chronicles of Narnia.” If the film triumphs at the box office, expect to see the rest of the Narnia books in theaters.

Inspired by the forthcoming Walden Media/Disney Film of the classic Narnia story The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Sturgis and Belmont University are hosting a three-day conference Nov. 3-5 celebrating C.S. Lewis’s contribution to literature, theology, apologetics, scholarship, popular culture, myth, and imagination.
The conference, Past Watchful Dragons: Fantasy and Faith in the World of C.S. Lewis, will also consider the work of the constellation of writers associated with Lewis such as J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, Owen Barfield, and Dorothy Sayers.

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