Myth and the Creative Process

The details
Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies
Colchester Campus
Full Year
Undergraduate: Level 6
Thursday 03 October 2019
Friday 26 June 2020
01 April 2019


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

The psychology of creativity is closely linked both to the individual writer and to her material via archetypal tropes which are manifested in mythological symbolism. This module will study intensely the Jungian and other depth psychological views of the human psyche which will give students the equipment to think mythically, not only about all creative activity but about life itself. Both a reflective essay on these themes will be required, as well as a portfolio of creative work based on classes.

Working closely in groups of six or seven students, the latter part of the module will allow students to work as a team and be assessed as part of a team. This third assignment will be on a theme chosen in negotiation with the tutor and will be one which reflects psychological and mythical motifs.

Myth and the Creative Process is a creative writing module which concentrates on the use of myth by writers across all literature, from the oldest known to those writing today, coupled with exploring a sense of how the creative process is linked to this common factor. Collaborative as well as creative processes will be explored, and the term myth will include such elements as fairy tale, tradition, locality, folklore, divination and other systems of knowledge and symbolism useful to writers.

This module is NOT suitable for anyone who is unwilling to undertake group work, which involves working with other students outside the classroom and for the purpose of group assessment.

Module Supervisor's Research into Subject Area

Adrian May's module is a unique one and is complemented by his book Myth and Creative Writing (Longman, 2011), which explores the psychology of creativity and its relation to myth. He has written elsewhere about myth and creativity.

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

1. To provide students with a good knowledge of the connections between myth and writing, via the studied texts and methods of writing
2. To give students the opportunity to write, using approaches from their understanding of myth and the creative process
3. To create an awareness of the potential use of myth in various genres and modes of writing
4. To enable students to research approaches to myth and creative writing and to develop individual writing from their research
5. To enable students to reflect critically on their writing process in its relation to myth, both as subject and in its potential for the creative process
6. To give students the opportunity to compare and evaluate their own work on the module in exercise and ‘workshop’ sessions

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students will be able to:

1. Identify and understand the links between concepts of myth and how they connect with writing, myth and creativity via psychology
2. Write creative works which explore motifs and themes of myth in different genres and modes
3. Research mythic themes and ideas and use them in their creative writing
4. Reflect critically on their writing in relation to myth and its links to the creative
5. Understand how to use structural and thematic, symbolic and psychological tropes of myth and the creative in their writings
6. Use the critical feedback from class exercises and assignments, both critical and creative, to edit and develop their creative writing in relation to the themes of the module

Module information

Essay 3,000 words, Portfolio 3,500-4,000 words, Project 4,000 words

The first term is concerned with the psychology of the creative process, while the spring term will concentrate on your own work. Writing exercises will be a part of most classes. High attendance and keeping up with directed reading will be key to taking this module, plus the willingness to work in groups on creative projects Your own reading on myth and creativity, following specific research or author interests, is vital. As writers, you will be expected to be expanding your sources for use in your work.
Some primary reading for the Autumn term includes:
Brande, Dorothea. Becoming A Writer.
Campbell, Joseph. The Hero With A Thousand Faces.
Euripides. The Bacchae.
Geneses, in the King James Authorised Version of The Bible.
The Epic of Gilgamesh, trans NK Sandars.
Hughes, Ted. 'Myth and Education', in Winter Pollen. Faber, London 1995.
Jung. Memories, Dreams, Reflections and Modern Man In search of a Soul.
May, Adrian. Myth and Creative Writing
Nietzsche. The Birth of Tragedy.
Vogler, Christopher. The Writer's Journey.
Warner, Marina, Managing Monsters: Six Myths of Our Time. The 1994 Reith Lectures ((London: Vintage, 1994)
Other materials will be available in module reader. Reading for the Spring and Summer terms will be discussed in class.
General reading for the course could include any good book of Greek and Roman myth, including a Classical dictionary, editions of Ovid's Metamorphoses, The I Ching, Katherine M. Briggs A Dictionary of British FolkTales, Greek tragedy and comedy, Westwood and Simpsons The Lore of the Land (Penguin 2005) and the Readers Digest Folklore, Myths and Legends of Britain. Also fairytales and folklore from your local area and world-wide. If you need advice about books, please ask your tutor.
General book on myth Myth by Laurence Coupe (London: Routledge, 1997).

Learning and teaching methods

Weekly 2-hour seminar


  • Brande, Dorothea. (1996) Becoming a writer, London: Macmillan.
  • Ted Hughes. (c1994) 'Myth and education', in Winter pollen: occasional prose, London: Faber and Faber.
  • May, Adrian. (c2011) Myth and creative writing: the self-renewing song, Harlow: Pearson Education.
  • Campbell, Joseph. (c2008) The hero with a thousand faces, Novato, Calif: New World Library.

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework Participation marks 5%
Coursework Essay (3,000 words) 11/12/2019 30%
Coursework Portfolio (3,500 - 4,000) 16/03/2020 30%
Coursework Group Project (4,000 words) - Both online AND submission to the General Office 21/04/2020 35%

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Adrian May
LiFTS General Office - email Telephone 01206 872626



External examiner

Dr James Michael Miller
Kingston University
Senior Lecturer in English Literature and Creative Writing
Available via Moodle
Of 40 hours, 20 (50%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
20 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

Disclaimer: The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its Module Directory is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to programmes, modules, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to modules may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery or assessment of modules and other services, to discontinue modules and other services and to merge or combine modules. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications and module directory.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.