Liam’s Thesis Idea: Conceptions of Foreignness and Cultural Exchange in Mythology

My primary interest for my thesis is broadly ideas of cultural exchange through movement and storytelling. I want to explore instances where art and mythology serve as a medium for this exchange, and relate it to the narratives we tell about ourselves today. Part of my interest in this topic comes from looking at the Early Bronze Age exchanges in the Mediterranean, and understanding how the mythology of that time period grows into later works of literature from the Odyssey to Athenian drama. What might be particularly interesting for this broad topic could be going in depth with Euripides’ Medea in order to explore some aspects of foreignness and immigration. The next part of this would involve using those understandings to look deeper at narratives of modern cultural exchange in an increasingly globalized world. How do we conceptualize our international relationships to each other through storytelling/visual art? How do traditional stories help this conceptualization, including when we look at similarities/differences in origin stories from different cultures/peoples?

Although I think there is a lot to look at here in terms of finding sources, I’m still unsure about a clear direction to go in (in terms of a clear thesis topic). I imagine that I will have the most success if I can narrow my scope to one or two primary pieces of evidence from the ancient world, although I am in many ways more interested in the reception side of things so I foresee that taking up a lot of the initial work for this.

I am really excited for this topic because I think it has broad reaching implications, particularly in, as I mentioned before an increasingly globalized world, but one that is experiencing a heightened interest in nationalism right now. I want to use the perspective of ancient Mediterranean peoples to reflect on and promote cultural exchange, particularly through literature and reception.

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