The New Mythology: Heroes Yesterday and Today

By Daniel L. Ireton.

Published by The International Journal of Arts Theory and History

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The teaching of classical literature or myth can prove difficult if the target audience cannot relate to the source material. Fortunately, most modern students at all levels of education are already familiar with mythical heroes produced by their own modern Western culture—the comic book superhero. The author examines the parallels between the superheroes of comic books and the heroes of classical mythology and epic poetry as a way of making classical heroes more relatable to a modern audience. By connecting the protagonists of these two seemingly dissimilar forms, an educator will establish buy-in with the students, generating in them a desire to explore the heroic tales which fill the myths of ancient and foreign cultures. These initiates to mythic heroism will then see how their own cultural tales (comic books) use the very same archetypes; the Achilles of yesterday is the Superman of today. Students will come away with a sense of the shared cultural identity experienced by ancient peoples that most modern youth otherwise lack.

Keywords: Comic Books, Superheroes, Mythology, Homer, Classical Literature

The International Journal of Arts Theory and History, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp.17-27. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.665MB).

Daniel L. Ireton

Assistant Professor, Undergraduate and Community Services Librarian, Undergraduate and Community Services Department, Kansas State University Libraries, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS, USA

I work primarily with undergraduate students, providing reference assistance and instruction in library tools and services. I also work heavily in outreach and engagement, spearheading events to bring students into the library and inform them of what libraries can provide. Prior to my faculty appointment, I worked at K-State Libraries in circulation and was in charge of sorting and maintenance of the physical collection. Along with my Masters in Libraries Science I have a Bachelor of Arts in theatre. My chief interests are learning styles and popular culture, with a focus in gaming and graphic novels.