Mythical Retellings and Implicit Meta-narratives in Children’s Literature: The Divergence between the Already Said and the Re-said as a Subversive Mechanism of the Dominant Western Meta-Ethics and as a Tool of Critical Revision of the Present

By Evangelia Moula.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Ancient Greek mythology, having survived uninterrupted through the centuries, undoubtedly constitutes a cultural capital of overriding importance for the global community. Myth, according to Levi Strauss, is composed of the totality of its versions, while the conditions of its social and cultural reception are diversified and adjusted to the era and the audience’s expectations. Mythical figures are constantly invested in different conceptual schemata, which correspond to the altered way of thinking in different chrono-topes. The adaptations of myths are based on the guaranteed popularity of them and the world-wide opinion that they express ecumenical human experiences and moral lessons.
The kind of relation established between an adaptation and its pre-text is defined by the historically-bound meta-narratives and is inscribed and embedded in the body of the narrative’s implicit ideological interpolations. Unfortunately, the majority of the mythical retellings for children have been imbued by the dominant western meta-ethics, which sanction the patriarchal, misogynistic, and ethnocentric narrative of modernism.
Having the above-mentioned in mind, as well as the decisive role of literature in the modulation of national identities in general and of Greek in particular, we are going to examine three children’s adaptations based on Greek myths and try to understand how Greekness is being perceived and how female identity is being shaped. Furthermore, we will explore the evidence of transcendence of the stereotyped reception of both concepts.
Τhe re-told myths of Philoctetes, Medea, and Helen of Troy revise the status of the mythical figures and disarticulate ethnic and gendered stereotypes of our present. This way the already told the mythical signifier, is re-signified in light of modern questions and insights.

Keywords: Greek Mythology, Adaptations, Children’s Literature, Gender Stereotypes, Nationalistic Stereotypes, Subversion

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp.127-140. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1010.419KB).

Dr. Evangelia Moula

Teacher in Secondary Education, Ialyssos- Rhodes, Dodecanesse, Greece

EVANGELIA MOULA has worked as a philologist in secondary education for 16 years. She has a BA in History and Archeology from the University of Athens in Greece, an MA in Children’s Literature and Pedagogy and a PhD titled “The tragic myth of Antiquity for Childhood” from Aegean University in Rhodes (Greece). She has participated in numerous international and pan-Hellenic conferences and published many scientific articles in various journals (Comparison, Philologiki, Keimena, Diadromes, CLA Journal, etc.). Her book Ancient Greek tragedy and the child: Reception and formation of national identity in after war Greece has just been published from Kritiki Publications (Greece). Her interests intersect the fields of ancient Greek and children’s culture and she also promotes alternative, interdisciplinary ways of approaching ancient and modern literature in the classroom. She has published another book, called The best use of comics in education, Athens, Kritiki, 2011.


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