Course Number 0626-2684-01
Course Name Myths of the Origin of Language
Academic Unit The Lester and Sally Entin Faculty of Humanities -
Lecturer Prof. Shirley ZisserContact
Contact Email:
Office HoursMonday 17:00 - 16:00
Building: Webb- School of Languages , Room: 509

By appointment
Mode of Instruction Lecture
Credit Hours 4
Semester 2020/2
Day Mon
Hours 12:00-14:00
Building Webb- School of Languages
Room 105
Semester 2020/2
Day Thu
Hours 12:00-14:00
Building Webb- School of Languages
Room 105
Fully online course Course is taught in English
Syllabus Not Found

Short Course Description

?How is it that orthography exists? It?s the most stupefying thing in the world,?
Lacan writes in the ?Geneva Lecture on the symptom? (1975), asking a question that is impossible to answer except, as Clause Levi Strauss suggest, by myth. But it is long before Lacan that thinkers have not only pondered the enigma of the emergence of language but proposed myths in response to the impossible with which this question confronts them. In this core course, we shall first study the literary-cultural foundations of myth, especially as set forth by Levi Strauss, and long before that, by Giambattista Vico. We shall then examine various myths of origin ? first, myths of the origin of painting from Pliny the Elder through psychoanalyst Francoise Dolto and George Bataille?s analysis of the Lascaux cave paintings in The Tears of Eros, and then, after we consider Freud?s myth of the birth of civilization in Totem and Taboo, read myths of the origin of language ? one articulated in Plato?s Phaedrus and then analyzed by Derrida, and the fascinating but not often analyzed myth of Simonides that reverberates in the rhetorical tradition from Cicero onwards, and consider what it can teach us about the relation between the emergence of language and that of mourning, whose most prominent poetic vehicle has been the elegy

Full syllabus will be available to registered students only
Course Requirements


Students may be required to submit additional assignments
Full requirements as stated in full syllabus

PrerequisiteIntroduction to Theory (06261250) +Basic Academic Writing (06261142) ORWriting Tutorial (06261141) ORBasic Academic Writing (16621142)

The specific prerequisites of the course,
according to the study program, appears on the program page of the handbook

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