In Search of Cupid and Psyche:
Myth and Legend in Children's Literature

Instructor: Michael Joseph
Course number: 17:611:589:88 [11669]

Rutgers University SCILS
Professional Development Studies


"In Search of Cupid and Psyche: Myth and Legend in Children's Literature" uses Apuleius's celebrated story of love and sacrifice as the jumping off point for examining the function of myth in creating and enhancing meaning in children's and young adult literature. Emphasis will be on the identification and analysis of books that rely upon, or incorporate elements of the "Cupid and Psyche" story in order to achieve what Mark Shorer has called "the dramatic representation of our deepest instinctual life." (William Blake: The Politics of Vision. New York: Holt, 1940). Students will be given an opportunity to draw upon a broad range of materials available on the World Wide Web, as well as experiment with other modes of technologically mediated communication, including Multiple User Object Oriented (MOO) programming.


This course will develop an AWARENESS of the following categories of knowledge:

It will also develop the following skills:


The children's literature we will be reading will include both overt materializations of the myth--retellings and adaptations of the Cupid and Psyche story-- and covert materializations of the myth, such as appear in fairy tale and folktale, picture books, chapter books, young adult reading, Puritan children's literature, and in novels from the so-called "Golden Age of Children's Literature." Students may introduce discussion of Children's literature outside this scope providing it relates to the mythological superstructures under consideration.


Students are expected to read the basic texts of the course, familiarize themselves with one or several theoretical approaches to myth and participate regularly and knowledgeably in discussion. Naturally, all assignments must be turned in on time.


    Full and unabashed participation in course discussions that demonstrate willingness to express original points of view and a sincere attempt to understand primary and secondary readings
    Journals are generally considered useful for preserving fleeting thoughts which may not at first appear significant, but which later turn out to have been very significant indeed. Students will be encouraged to keep journals, which may be facilitated through use of Lotus Learning Space, noting:
    1. titles of primary sources, i.e., books, stories, poems (incl. authors, publishers, place of publication and date published);
    2. mythic elements discerned (refer to Mythic Elements pages or to critical sources;
    3. likeness to other books, stories, poems--be specific and concise;
    4. titles of secondary sources, i.e. collections or analyses of myth, and personal reactions: IT IS OKAY TO REJECT A PIECE OF CRITICAL ANALYSIS BECAUSE YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND IT (and, sometimes admitting you don't understand something begins the real process of understanding).
  3. PAPER/BIBLIOGRAPHY: There are several possibilities:

    The paper should be no longer than 10-15 pages.

There may well be other useful ideas for papers or for bibliographies that will emerge from our discussions. Students are free to improvise but must consult with me in advance.


MOVEs--Multi-User Virtual Environments--or, as they are alternatively called, MOOS--Multiple- user Object Oriented--enable discussions in real time among multiple users. However, unlike chat rooms, which they superficially resemble, MOVEs also allow users to create textual objects which can become part of the virtual environment; these can be seen, read, and manipulated by others; in this respect, MOVEs stimulate interactive, collaborative, projects that can possess considerable expressive power and sophistication.

Students will meet in groups in a room at one of two educational MOVEs (or MOOs) yet to be determined (either Walden3, or Diversity University, Inc.). The room will be designed specifically for the course, "In Search of Cupid and Psyche." After learning a few basic MOO commands (see D.U.'s Basic MOO Commands), students will collaboratively build textual models that creatively explore essential and meaningful mythic relationships among diverse texts in the literature for children and young adults.

Course Instructor: Michael Joseph

Threaded discussions (If you lose your password, or have trouble connecting, write to me at

Course Outline

Various images (not from children's books) of Cupid and Psyche

Distance Education: School of Communication, Information, and Library Studies

Youth Literature and Technology Certificate Program

Youth Literature and Technology: Courses in the Program