Myth Today: the Traditional Understanding of Myth in Critical Theories of Society and the Usefulness of Vernant's Concept of Ancient Greek Mythology for Contemporary Cultural Studies
There is no shortage of speaking about »myths« in contemporary popular culture, and often ancient Greek myths are evoked. »Myth«, however, is usually taken to mean a widely distributed story or belief which is inexact, false and/or fabricated – typically, to manipulate the multitude. In critical theories of society after Marx there are hints of different, theoretically more productive accounts of modern heritage or modern correspondences with Greek mythology.
Marx himself has influenced cultural theorists with his account of the relationship between Greek mythology and Greek art as given in his Grundrisse. In his view, mythology serves as the arsenal and foundation of art because in mythology »nature and social forms are already reworked in an unconsciously artistic way by the popular imagination«.
This account, together with a hint that there exist (in newspapers) modern correspondences with such a relationship, has led to various theoretical elaborations of contemporary popular culture and ideology (e.g. in A. Gramsci, R. Williams, L. Althusser, P. Macherey etc.). None of them, however, retains »myth« as a concept; the word, when used, refers to ideology. Even R. Barthes, who developed a semiological concept of myth, did not refer to its Greek cultural meaning but used it explicitly as a tool for analysing the ideological manipulation of popular culture.
C. Lévi-Strauss in social anthropology in general and J.-P. Vernant in the anthropology of ancient worlds have, on the other hand, developed the structural analysis of myths as essential to a culture without reducing it disparagingly to ideology. In our view, it should be possible to transpose Vernant's treatment of myth as a variable and shifting popular account of topics vital to its consumers to the study of today's popular culture and media.
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors are confirming that they are the authors of the submitting article, which will be published (print and online) in Keria by Znanstvena založba Filozofske fakultete Univerze v Ljubljani (University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts, Aškerčeva 2, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia). Author’s name will be evident in the article in journal. All decisions regarding layout and distribution of the work are in hands of the publisher.
- Authors guarantee that the work is their own original creation and does not infringe any statutory or common-law copyright or any proprietary right of any third party. In case of claims by third parties, authors commit their self to defend the interests of the publisher, and shall cover any potential costs.
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work.