Fandom and Neomedia Studies

Monumenta Mythica Volume 1 Abstract Pre-Prints

We are pleased to bring you these pre-print abstracts of articles that will appear in the first issue of Monumenta Mythica. This page will be updated as more papers are approved for inclusion.

Understanding Ludic Mythology: Deities and Heroes in Synthetic Worlds

Daniel Browne, University of Queensland, Australia

Myths express the human experience by distilling it into compelling narratives. Video games are a powerful communicative medium with significant cultural influence. These factors mean the myths that appear in video games assume tremendous cultural importance. And yet there is a distinct lack of academic research into this phenomenon. This article seeks to fill the space in what is known by investigating the relationship between video game mythology and existing forms of mythology. It argues mythological video games typically either adapt existing mythological traditions or appropriate the raw material of the past to transform it into something new. It further contends that ludic mythology—contextually important video game narratives that typically thematise deities, supernatural powers, or heroic journeys and the associated mise-en-scène that validates these stories—deserves to be studied as a separate phenomenon because existing comparatist, psychological, ritualist, structuralist, and ideological approaches towards the study of mythology do not acknowledge the distinct characteristics of the video game medium. Ludic mythology has an identifiable point of origin. Game designers and players co-author mythic narratives that are both malleable and capable of rapid change. Ludic myths take place in synthetic environments. They explore themes such as deicide and apotheosis that can be problematic for other mythological traditions. And the player’s interactions can determine both the content and structure of these stories. Essentially, ludic mythology is a new form of mythology that will be of great interest to mythologists and to those who study popular culture.

Heroes, Monsters, and Superheroes / Eroi, Mostriy, e Supereroi: What Remains of the Mythological Hero’s Legacy in the Superhero? / Cosa rimane dell’eredità dell’eroe mitologico nel supereroe?

Marco Favaro, Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg, Germany

In this work I analyze the relationship between the modern superhero and the ancient mythological hero. The work is divided into three main parts: in the first one I use the analysis of J. Campbell The Hero with a Thousand Faces and Gli eroi greci of A. Brelich. For Campbell, the hero is defined by his journey that is divided in three moments: Departure, Initiation and Return. I argue that the superhero, unlike the mythological heroes, never completes this journey. Batman, Spider-Man, Daredevil: they are prisoners of the “Initiation”, they never return to the community, they stay in the “liminal status”. I refer to Brelich to show the aspects of the ancient mythology which are still strong in the superhero’s world such as the relationship with the cities, the fight, the mysteries and the ritual of passage.

In the second part, I deepen one important aspect of the mythological hero: his hubris. It manifests itself in all his monstrous aspects, especially in the violence. Referring to R. Girard’s La violenza e il sacro, I show how violence and suffering not only survive in the modern superhero but are necessary to define its relationship with society.

Finally, in the third part, reconnecting to the hubris, the monstrous aspect of the hero, I deepen his relationship with the monsters he fights. I show that monsters and heroes are not so different and they present many traits in common. Both in ancient mythology and in modern comics the hero often becomes a monster to fight against other atrocities. In the superhero universe, despite a clearer division between heroes and villains, between Good and Evil, the superheroes preserve the monstrous aspects present in the hero of myth and a strong connection with their enemies.

Each of these elements will be studied in connection with the most iconic superheroes.

In questo lavoro analizzo la relazione tra il moderno supereroe e l’eroe mitologico antico. Il lavoro è suddiviso in tre parti principali: nella prima utilizzo l’analisi di J. Campbell The Hero with a Thousand Faces e Gli eroi greci di A. Brelich. Per Campbell l’eroe viene definito dalla sua avventura, divisa in tre momenti principali: la Partenza, l’Iniziazione e il Ritorno. Mostrerò come, a differenza dell’eroe mitologico, il supereroe non completa mai la sua avventura. Batman, Spider-Man, Daredevil: tutti loro rimangono prigionieri della “Iniziazione”, non fanno mai ritorno alla comunità, permangono in uno “status liminale”. Richiamandomi poi a Brelich analizzo gli aspetti del mito antico che sopravvivono ancora nel moderno mondo dei supereroi quali il rapporto con le città, il combattimento, i riti di passaggio e la morte.

Nella seconda parte approfondisco uno degli aspetti fondamentali dell’eroe mitologico: la sua hybris. Questa si manifesta in tutti i suoi aspetti mostruosi, in particolare nella violenza. Qui, facendo riferimento a La violenza e il sacro di R. Girard, mostro come la violenza e la sofferenza a questa connessa non solo sopravvivano nel supereroe moderno ma siano necessarie per definire il suo rapporto con la società.

Infine, nella terza parte, ricollegandomi alla hybris, aspetto mostruoso dell’eroe, approfondisco la sua relazione con i mostri che combatte. Si vedrà come mostri ed eroi non siano diversi, ma presentino molti tratti in comune. Sia nella mitologia antica che nei fumetti moderni spesso l’eroe è costretto a divenire lui stesso un mostro per combattere altre atrocità e minacce. Nell’universo supereroistico, nonostante una divisione più netta tra eroi e Villain, tra bene e male, i supereroi conservano gli aspetti mostruosi presenti nell’eroe del mito.

Ognuno di questi elementi sarà studiato in connessione con i supereroi più iconici.

Celebrating the Past, Present, and the Future: The Case of Odumu Music and Dance among the Idoma People

Dr Godwin E. Ogli, Department of Music, Federal College of Education, Okene, Nigeria

The theatre of Idoma performative culture has served in various religious, entertainment, and historical functions. Using the language of music and dance, Odumu music offers an entertainment space for both young and old in Idoma traditional society. The music celebrates the people’s conquest and subjugation of their environment, effectively making it friendly, habitable, and useable for cultivation. This paper discusses Odumu musical performance and its socio-cultural significance among the Idoma people of Benue State, Nigeria. It captures Idoma’s celebratory story of conquest of the wild, self-rehabilitation, and occupation in the face of wars in the past. While the composition of the group depicts the strength of Idoma traditional society, the performance structure, musical instruments, and occasions for performance reveal the inter-personal realities, social interactions, belief systems, and entertainment priorities of the Idoma people. Further still, the work reveals that musical performance like Odumu is a vehicle par excellence for promoting Idoma identity and arts.

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