Varieties of Supernatural Depictions

Classics in Contemporary Media




Myth Theory, Classical Mythology, Supernatural, Paranormal, Afterlife


This article proposes several conceptual frameworks for examining the widespread use of classical intertexts depicting the supernatural in popular media. Whether the supernatural is viewed as reality or simply a trope, it represents the human capacity and desire to explore worlds and meanings beyond the obvious and mundane. Representations of classical gods, heroes, and monsters evoke the power of mythic stories to probe and explain human psychology, social concerns, philosophical questions, and religious beliefs, including belief about the paranormal and supernatural. The entertainment value of popular media allows creators and audiences to engage with larger issues in non-dogmatic and playful ways that help them negotiate tensions among various beliefs and identities. This paper also gives an overview of the other articles in this journal issue, showing overlapping themes and patterns that connect with these tensions. By combining knowledge of classical myths in their original contexts with knowledge about contemporary culture, classical scholars contribute unique perspectives about why classical intertexts dominate in popular media today.