Volcanoes and Mythology

Christyanne Melendez
Day/Time Taught: 
TR 12:30-1:45
Course Number: 

Human populations located on or near volcanically active areas have long shared an intimate connection with volcanoes. The life-giving and life-terminating abilities of volcanoes has both attracted and instilled fear in inhabitants of volcanically active areas. Affected human populations have developed extensive mythologies to explain the life-giving qualities and unpredictable devastation associated with volcanic eruptions. This course will explore the mythologies associated with different cultures located in volcanically active regions of the world. The course will introduce students to the field of volcanology, specifically types of volcanic activity and the associated hazards affecting populations located near volcanoes. We will examine the literature and artistic expressions associated with both historical and contemporary volcano-based mythologies throughout history, focusing on rituals and beliefs. Emphasis will be placed on comparing and contrasting the mythological and scientific explanations for events. Students will investigate several topics including the role that mythology plays in volcanic hazards mitigation, the psychological need to create rational explanations for seemingly irrational events, mythology as a means to maintain societal structure, mythology as a means to ensure survival of the affected population, and the use of mythology for identifying historic volcanic events. We will also speculate on the consequences of the loss of local mythology due to increased influences from both scientists and tourists.

Transfer students?: 

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The First Year Seminar is part of the General Education Program located in Anne Belk Hall, Room 250.

Phone: 828-262-2028

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First Year Seminar
ASU Box 32065
Appalachian State University
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Director of First Year Seminar:
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