Theories & Links

Myth These ten points provide a general “definitional matrix” for my study of myth in journalism and popular culture.

Apocalypse The apocalypse myth has a long lineage in a variety of historic cultures not just the Judeo-Christian world. As Eugen Weber has argued, “apocalypse long furnished the key to human history,” particularly in the Judeo-Christian west where until the 17th century “premonitory history” was history.

The quest The quest myth is one of the fundamental mythic patterns discernable in a variety of cultures and times: the Arthurian quest for the Holy Grail, Moses’ quest for the promised land, the exploits of the Homeric Odyssey are obvious examples. The Star Wars films, The Lord of the Rings or The Matrix trilogy offer variations of this story in contemporary guise.

New world/other world The quest narrative is closely related to the discovery of new worlds, expanding the frontier is a task faced with both desire and trepidation in many traditional hero stories.

Home Creation myths and national foundation myths are common mythic forms. The myth of the Jewish promised land is one such ancient story that continues to have very material consequences.

The family drama The web of family drama is today unavoidably set against pervasive psychoanalytic self-awareness. Classic myths meet dysfunctional families and royal successions are played out in the corporate corridors of multinational organisations.

The alchemist In popular discourse alchemy is only tangentially related to the complexities of the mystic precursor of modern chemistry. In its ancient form, alchemy was not just based around crude attempts to transform lead into gold but was a well developed esoteric philosophical system.

The Trickster The trickster is one of the most enduring and widespread mythical figures. The antics of Br’er Rabbit, the Shakespearean fool, Native American Coyote tales, Chinese Monkey tales, the adventures of the Greek god Hermes, and the exploits of the Rabelaisian carnival can all be read as realms of the trickster type.


Documents: articles

O’Donnell, M., 2004, “Going to the chapel media narratives of same sex marriage,” Pacific Journalism Review, 10(1).

ABSTRACT: The public discourse about marriage oscillates between a story of the ideal and a story of the everyday. A range of symbolic references or myths are mobilised in media stories about marriage, this is particularly evident in the polarised debate around same-sex marriage. The article identifies and explores three of the myths that underlie the rhetoric in same-sex marriage stories: 1) the evolution/revolution myth; 2) the apocalypse myth and 3) the myth of the child. It also argues that the production of such stories has effects on the realm of “intimate citizenship” (Plummer 1995) and that it is through this contested storytelling that new identities and their attendant rights become possible.



O’Donnell, M., 2004, ““Bring it on”: the apocalypse of George W. Bush,” Media International Australia Incorporating Culture and Policy, No 113.

ABSTRACT: This article examines a number of cinematic, literary and journalistic texts in the context of what film maker Tom Tykwer calls the “aesthetic memory” of September 11. In particular it explores the way these narratives relate to deeply embedded Western cultural myths of the apocalyptic. The apocalyptic language of American Christian fundamentalism and the heroic narratives of Hollywood film are explored as twin influences on a powerful civil religion dubbed by Jewett and Lawrence (2003) “The Captain America complex”.







   This site was designed by Marcus O'Donnell as part of his Ph.D research