Today’s post was written by library student assistant Ally Scarpa. Ally is a sophomore Marketing major.
On April 11, 2018, the final Faculty Pub Night of the spring semester featured Dean Scheibel, Professor of Communication Studies and the Director of Interdisciplinary and Applied Programs. Scheibel discussed his recent project, The Mythic Student Hero and the Dreaded Lit Review.
His project sprung from one of his class assignments: a reflection detailing the experience of writing a literary review in comic form. Students would cast themselves as heroes tasked with facing the “dreaded lit review.” After accumulating over 100 of these comics, Scheibel examined them in depth, and recognized echoes of classic mythology. He was then inspired to use student comics as a medium to analyze mythology and the hero’s journey.
Before Scheibel gave a live demonstration of his analysis, he explained how he defined a myth for his project: “A myth is a narrative within a community that has shared interests, supports a particular order of things, but is linked to more all encompassing themes and images.”
The several comics presented drew various laughs, chuckles, and snickers from the audience. They were laden with slang and expletives indicative of their student authors; Scheibel had discouraged his students from censoring themselves.
Scheibel peeled back the comics’ contemporary humor to reveal their mythic origin. For example, while being unenthused about a literature review is typical student behavior, it’s also the mark of the reluctant hero: an individual who refuses the call of adventure. Likewise, a student unable to write until gifted coffee by the motivation fairy is more than a jab at student caffeine addiction. It marks the appearance of supernatural entity, a mystical being which aids the hero in achieving their goal.
To close his presentation Scheibel invited his collaborator Melanie Hubbard (Digital Scholarship Librarian) on stage to speak. Hubbard explained how she initially worked to convert the project into an e-book, with the goal of making it accessible as possible. As she worked on the conversion, Hubbard raised the question on whether the material should be held to the same goal. As a result, the project was revised. It retained its original analysis, but now featured a simplified version as well. The latter is more accessible to students and other individuals who may not have had the academic/theoretical background.
Upon its conclusion, the comical crash course on mythology was greeted with an enthusiastic applause. Everyone left with a new perspective on what lies beneath a comic, and a little less fearful of the “dreaded lit review”.
Thank you, Ally, for sharing your perspective with us!