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Superman: Modern Mythology
Grade Level(s): 6-8
By: Mr. Francis, World Literature Teacher

The learner will demonstrate application of literature by applying ideas from a literary selection to a different context.

Materials:

Mythological Stories
  • "Perseus" (Greek Myth)
  • "The Story of Moses" (Old Testament)
  • "Sargon the Mighty" (Ancient Akkad)
  • "The Sword and the Stone" (Arthurian legend)
  • Superman The Movie (1978) Directed by Richard Donne

Plan:

  1. Introduce the lesson with a journal entry: "What is a hero? "
  2. List on the board what the students believe to be the attributes of a hero.
  3. Distribute the four mythological stories to separate groups of four. Have each group member read the story, summarize them for the class, and point out the themes of the story.
  4. List the common themes of heroic mythology.
    • a) Abandonment: Hero is cast away in a small "box" or "boat" across a great "sea" from family due to tragic circumstances.
    • b) Fate/Destiny: Hero grows up ignorant of identity but learns of true origin.
    • c) Emergent Savior: Hero faces incredible odds to become the unlikely savior.
  5. The origin of Superman
    • a) Ask the students to recount the origin of Superman.
    • b) Point out Superman's relation to Judaism (physical characteristics, Kryptonian name "El" means God in Hebrew).
    • c) View Superman the Movie. Have students look for themes of mythology in the story.
    • d) Interpretive Essay Question: "Is Superman mythology?"
  6. Have students compare the origin of Superman to the stories read in class and the themes of hero.

Comments:

The key to making mythology accessible to middle schoolers is to relate it to subjects they understand. Discuss how the heroic and tragic myths and legends of ancient civilization were both their education and entertainment. Also, be aware that Superman the Movie does have a scene of frontal nudity, where a 7 year old Kal-El emerges naked from his crashed spaceship. Send a note about this scene home to parents to make them aware of the scene, have them send in a permission slip for viewing, and put a CENSORED sign over the screen.

 


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