Campbell, c. 1984
Joseph John Campbell
March 26, 1904
|Died||October 30, 1987 83) (aged|
Jean Erdman (m. 1938)
|Alma mater||Columbia University (BA, MA)|
|Academic advisors||Roger Sherman Loomis|
|Institutions||Sarah Lawrence College|
Joseph John Campbell (March 26, 1904 – October 30, 1987) was an American professor of literature at Sarah Lawrence College who worked in comparative mythology and comparative religion. His work covers many aspects of the human experience. Campbell's most well-known work is his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949), in which he discusses his theory of the journey of the archetypal hero shared by world mythologies, termed the monomyth.
Since the publication of The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Campbell's theories have been applied by a wide variety of modern writers and artists. His philosophy has been summarized by his own often repeated phrase: "Follow your bliss."He gained recognition in Hollywood when George Lucas credited Campbell's work as influencing his Star Wars saga.
Campbell's approach to folklore topics such as myth and his influence on popular culture has been the subject of criticism, including from folklorists, academics in folklore studies.
Joseph Campbell was born in White Plains, New York,on March 26, 1904, the son of Josephine (née Lynch) and Charles William Campbell. He was from an upper-middle-class Irish Catholic family. During his childhood, he moved with his family to nearby New Rochelle, New York. In 1919, a fire destroyed the family home in New Rochelle, killing his grandmother.
In 1921, Campbell graduated from the Canterbury School in New Milford, Connecticut. While at Dartmouth College he studied biology and mathematics, but decided that he preferred the humanities. He transferred to Columbia University, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature in 1925 and a Master of Arts degree in medieval literature in 1927. At Dartmouth he had joined Delta Tau Delta. An accomplished athlete, he received awards in track and field events, and, for a time, was among the fastest half-mile runners in the world.
In 1924, Campbell traveled to Europe with his family. On the ship during his return trip he encountered the messiah elect of the Theosophical Society, Jiddu Krishnamurti; they discussed Indian philosophy, sparking in Campbell an interest in Hindu and Indian thought.In 1927, he received a fellowship from Columbia University to study in Europe. Campbell studied Old French, Provençal, and Sanskrit at the University of Paris and the University of Munich. He learned to read and speak French and German.
On his return to Columbia University in 1929, Campbell expressed a desire to pursue the study of Sanskrit and modern art in addition to Medieval literature. Lacking faculty approval, Campbell withdrew from graduate studies. Later in life he jested that it is a sign of incompetence to have a PhD in the liberal arts, the discipline covering his work.
With the arrival of the Great Depression, Campbell spent the next five years (1929–1934) living in a rented shack in Woodstock, New York. ... I would get nine hours of sheer reading done a day. And this went on for five years straight."There, he contemplated the next course of his life while engaged in intensive and rigorous independent study. He later said that he "would divide the day into four four-hour periods, of which I would be reading in three of the four-hour periods, and free one of them
Campbell traveled to California for a year (1931–1932), continuing his independent studies and becoming close friends with the budding writer John Steinbeck and his wife Carol. Campbell was introduced to the Steinbecks by author and early nutritionist Adelle Davis whom he met and developed a close relationship with on a cruise to the Caribbean with his father in December 1929. 156 On the Monterey Peninsula, Campbell, like John Steinbeck, fell under the spell of the marine biologist Ed Ricketts (the model for "Doc" in Steinbeck's novel Cannery Row as well as central characters in several other novels). Campbell lived for a while next door to Ricketts, participated in professional and social activities at his neighbor's, and accompanied him, along with Xenia and Sasha Kashevaroff, on a 1932 journey to Juneau, Alaska on the Grampus. Campbell began writing a novel centered on Ricketts as a hero but, unlike Steinbeck, did not complete his book.:
Bruce Robison writes that
Campbell would refer to those days as a time when everything in his life was taking shape. ... Campbell, the great chronicler of the "hero's journey" in mythology, recognized patterns that paralleled his own thinking in one of Ricketts's unpublished philosophical essays. Echoes of Carl Jung, Robinson Jeffers and James Joyce can be found in the work of Steinbeck and Ricketts as well as Campbell.
Campbell continued his independent reading while teaching for a year in 1933 at the Canterbury School, during which time he also attempted to publish works of fiction. While teaching at the Canterbury School, Campbell sold his first short story Strictly Platonic to Liberty magazine.
In 1934, Campbell accepted a position as Professor of Literature at Sarah Lawrence College. In 1938, he married one of his former students, the dancer-choreographer Jean Erdman. For most of their 49 years of marriage they shared a two-room apartment in Greenwich Village in New York City. In the 1980s they also purchased an apartment in Honolulu and divided their time between the two cities. They did not have any children.
Early in World War II, Campbell attended a lecture by the Indologist Heinrich Zimmer; the two men became good friends. After Zimmer's death, Campbell was given the task of editing and posthumously publishing Zimmer's papers, which he would do over the following decade.
In 1955–1956, as the last volume of Zimmer's posthumous (The Art of Indian Asia, Its Mythology and Transformations) was finally about to be published, Campbell took a sabbatical from Sarah Lawrence College and traveled, for the first time, to Asia. He spent six months in southern Asia (mostly India) and another six in East Asia (mostly Japan). This year had a profound influence on his thinking about Asian religion and myth, and also on the necessity for teaching comparative mythology to a larger, non-academic audience.
In 1972, Campbell retired from Sarah Lawrence College, after having taught there for 38 years.
Campbell attended a Grateful Dead concert in 1986, and marveled that "Everyone has just lost themselves in everybody else here!" With the Dead, Campbell put on a conference called "Ritual and Rapture from Dionysus to the Grateful Dead".
Campbell died at his home in Honolulu, Hawaii, on October 30, 1987, from complications of esophageal cancer.Before his death he had completed filming the series of interviews with Bill Moyers that aired the following spring as The Power of Myth . He is buried in O'ahu Cemetery, Honolulu.
Campbell often referred to the work of modern writers James Joyce and Thomas Mann in his lectures and writings, as well as to the art of Pablo Picasso. He was introduced to their work during his stay as a graduate student in Paris. Campbell eventually corresponded with Mann.
The works of Arthur Schopenhauer and Friedrich Nietzsche had a profound effect on Campbell's thinking; he quoted their writing frequently.[ citation needed ]
The "follow your bliss" philosophy attributed to Campbell following the original broadcast of The Power of Myth (see below) derives from the Hindu Upanishads; however, Campbell was possibly also influenced by the 1922 Sinclair Lewis novel Babbitt . In The Power of Myth, Campbell quotes from the novel:
The anthropologist Leo Frobenius and his disciple Adolf Ellegard Jensen were important to Campbell's view of cultural history. Campbell was also influenced by the psychological work of Abraham Maslow and Stanislav Grof.
Campbell's ideas regarding myth and its relation to the human psyche are dependent in part on the pioneering work of Sigmund Freud, but in particular on the work of Jung, whose studies of human psychology greatly influenced Campbell. Campbell's conception of myth is closely related to the Jungian method of dream interpretation, which is heavily reliant on symbolic interpretation. Jung's insights into archetypes were heavily influenced by the Bardo Thodol (also known as The Tibetan Book of the Dead). In his book The Mythic Image, Campbell quotes Jung's statement about the Bardo Thodol, that it
belongs to that class of writings which not only are of interest to specialists in Mahayana Buddhism, but also, because of their deep humanity and still deeper insight into the secrets of the human psyche, make an especial appeal to the layman seeking to broaden his knowledge of life ... For years, ever since it was first published, the Bardo Thodol has been my constant companion, and to it I owe not only many stimulating ideas and discoveries, but also many fundamental insights.
Campbell's concept of monomyth (one myth) refers to the theory that sees all mythic narratives as variations of a single great story. The theory is based on the observation that a common pattern exists beneath the narrative elements of most great myths, regardless of their origin or time of creation. Campbell often referred to the ideas of Adolf Bastian and his distinction between what he called "folk" and "elementary" ideas, the latter referring to the prime matter of monomyth while the former to the multitude of local forms the myth takes in order to remain an up-to-date carrier of sacred meanings. The central pattern most studied by Campbell is often referred to as the hero's journey and was first described in The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949).An enthusiast of novelist James Joyce, Campbell borrowed the term monomyth from Joyce's Finnegans Wake . Campbell also made heavy use of Carl Jung's theories on the structure of the human psyche, and he often used terms such as anima/animus and ego consciousness .
As a strong believer in the psychic unity of mankind and its poetic expression through mythology, Campbell made use of the concept to express the idea that the whole of the human race can be seen as engaged in the effort of making the world "transparent to transcendence" by showing that underneath the world of phenomena lies an eternal source which is constantly pouring its energies into this world of time, suffering, and ultimately death. To achieve this task one needs to speak about things that existed before and beyond words, a seemingly impossible task, the solution to which lies in the metaphors found in myths. These metaphors are statements that point beyond themselves into the transcendent. The Hero's Journey was the story of the man or woman who, through great suffering, reached an experience of the eternal source and returned with gifts powerful enough to set their society free.
As this story spread through space and evolved through time, it was broken down into various local forms (masks), depending on the social structures and environmental pressures that existed for the culture that interpreted it. The basic structure, however, has remained relatively unchanged and can be classified using the various stages of a hero's adventure through the story, stages such as the Call to Adventure, Receiving Supernatural Aid, Meeting with the Goddess/Atonement with the Father and Return. These stages, as well as the symbols one encounters throughout the story, provide the necessary metaphors to express the spiritual truths the story is trying to convey. Metaphor for Campbell, in contrast with comparisons which make use of the word like, pretend to a literal interpretation of what they are referring to, as in the sentence "Jesus is the Son of God" rather than "the relationship of man to God is like that of a son to a father".
In the 2000 documentary Joseph Campbell: A Hero's Journey, he explains God in terms of a metaphor:
God is a metaphor for a mystery that absolutely transcends all human categories of thought, even the categories of being and non-being. Those are categories of thought. I mean it's as simple as that. So it depends on how much you want to think about it. Whether it's doing you any good. Whether it is putting you in touch with the mystery that's the ground of your own being. If it isn't, well, it's a lie. So half the people in the world are religious people who think that their metaphors are facts. Those are what we call theists. The other half are people who know that the metaphors are not facts. And so, they're lies. Those are the atheists.
Some scholars have disagreed with the concept of the "monomyth" because of its oversimplification of different cultures. According to Robert Ellwood, "A tendency to think in generic terms of people, races ... is undoubtedly the profoundest flaw in mythological thinking."
Campbell often described mythology as having a fourfold function within human society. These appear at the end of his work The Masks of God: Creative Mythology, as well as various lectures.
Campbell's view of mythology was by no means static and his books describe in detail how mythologies evolved through time, reflecting the realities in which each society had to adjust.Various stages of cultural development have different yet identifiable mythological systems. In brief these are:
In 1991, Campbell's widow, choreographer Jean Erdman, worked with Campbell's longtime friend and editor, Robert Walter, to create the Joseph Campbell Foundation.
Initiatives undertaken by the JCF include: The Collected Works of Joseph Campbell, a series of books and recordings that aims to pull together Campbell's myriad-minded work; the Erdman Campbell Award; the Mythological RoundTables, a network of local groups around the globe that explore the subjects of comparative mythology, psychology, religion and culture; and the collection of Campbell's library and papers housed at the OPUS Archives and Research Center.
George Lucas was the first Hollywood filmmaker to credit Campbell's influence. Lucas stated, following the release of the first Star Wars film in 1977, that its story was shaped, in part, by ideas described in The Hero with a Thousand Faces and other works of Campbell's. The linkage between Star Wars and Campbell was further reinforced when later reprints of Campbell's book used the image of Luke Skywalker on the cover.Lucas discusses this influence at great length in the authorized biography of Joseph Campbell, A Fire in the Mind:
I came to the conclusion after American Graffiti that what's valuable for me is to set standards, not to show people the world the way it is...around the period of this realization...it came to me that there really was no modern use of mythology...The Western was possibly the last generically American fairy tale, telling us about our values. And once the Western disappeared, nothing has ever taken its place. In literature we were going off into science fiction...so that's when I started doing more strenuous research on fairy tales, folklore, and mythology, and I started reading Joe's books. Before that I hadn't read any of Joe's books...It was very eerie because in reading The Hero with a Thousand Faces I began to realize that my first draft of Star Wars was following classic motifs... So I modified my next draft according to what I'd been learning about classical motifs and made it a little bit more consistent...I went on to read 'The Masks of God' and many other books.
It was not until after the completion of the original Star Wars trilogy in 1983, however, that Lucas met Campbell or heard any of his lectures.In 1984, Campbell gave a lecture at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, with Lucas in the audience, who was introduced through their mutual friend Barbara McClintock. A few years later, Lucas invited Campbell to watch the entire Star Wars trilogy at Skywalker Ranch, which Campbell called "real art". This meeting led to the filming of the 1988 documentary The Power of Myth at Skywalker Ranch. In his interviews with Bill Moyers, Campbell discusses the way in which Lucas used The Hero's Journey in the Star Wars films (IV, V, and VI) to re-invent the mythology for the contemporary viewer. Moyers and Lucas filmed an interview 12 years later in 1999 called the Mythology of Star Wars with George Lucas & Bill Moyers to further discuss the impact of Campbell's work on Lucas' films. In addition, the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution sponsored an exhibit during the late 1990s called Star Wars: The Magic of Myth, which discussed the ways in which Campbell's work shaped the Star Wars films.
Many filmmakers of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries have acknowledged the influence of Campbell's work on their own craft. Christopher Vogler, a Hollywood screenwriter, created a seven-page company memo based on Campbell's work, A Practical Guide to The Hero With a Thousand Faces,which led to the development of Disney's 1994 film The Lion King . Among films that many viewers have recognized as closely following the pattern of the monomyth are The Matrix series, the Batman series and the Indiana Jones series. Dan Harmon, the creator of the TV show Community , often references Campbell as a major influence. According to him, he uses a "story circle" to formulate every story he writes, in a formulation of Campbell's work.
After the explosion of popularity brought on by the Star Wars films and The Power of Myth, creative artists in many media recognized the potential to use Campbell's theories to try to unlock human responses to narrative patterns. Novelists, – in particular, the monomyth – and its impact.songwriters, video game designers have studied Campbell's work in order to better understand mythology
The novelist Richard Adams acknowledges a debt to Campbell's work and specifically to the concept of the monomyth.In his best known work, Watership Down , Adams uses extracts from The Hero with a Thousand Faces as chapter epigrams.
Dan Brown mentioned in a New York Times interview that Joseph Campbell's works, particularly The Power of Myth and The Hero with a Thousand Faces, inspired him to create the character of Robert Langdon.
One of Campbell's most identifiable, most quoted and arguably most misunderstood sayings was his admonition to "follow your bliss". He derived this idea from the Upanishads:
Now, I came to this idea of bliss because in Sanskrit, which is the great spiritual language of the world, there are three terms that represent the brink, the jumping-off place to the ocean of transcendence: Sat-Chit-Ananda. The word "Sat" means being. "Chit" means consciousness. "Ananda" means bliss or rapture. I thought, "I don't know whether my consciousness is proper consciousness or not; I don't know whether what I know of my being is my proper being or not; but I do know where my rapture is. So let me hang on to rapture, and that will bring me both my consciousness and my being." I think it worked.
He saw this not merely as a mantra, but as a helpful guide to the individual along the hero journey that each of us walks through life:
If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Wherever you are—if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time.
Campbell began sharing this idea with students during his lectures in the 1970s. By the time that The Power of Myth was aired in 1988, six months following Campbell's death, "Follow your bliss" was a philosophy that resonated deeply with the American public—both religious and secular.
During his later years, when some students took him to be encouraging hedonism, Campbell is reported to have grumbled, "I should have said, 'Follow your blisters.'"
Campbell's approach to myth, a genre of folklore, has been the subject of criticism from folklorists, academics who specialize in folklore studies. American folklorist Barre Toelken notes that few psychologists have taken the time to become familiar with the complexities of folklore, and that, historically, Jung-influenced psychologists and authors have tended to build complex theories around single versions of a tale that supports a theory or a proposal. To illustrate his point, Toelken employs Clarissa Pinkola Estés's (1992) Women Who Run with the Wolves , citing its inaccurate representation of the folklore record, and Campbell's "monomyth" approach as another. Regarding Campbell, Toelken writes, "Campbell could construct a monomyth of the hero only by citing those stories that fit his preconceived mold, and leaving out equally valid stories ... which did not fit the pattern". Toelken traces the influence of Campbell's monomyth theory into other then-contemporary popular works, such as Robert Bly's Iron John: A Book About Men (1990), which he says suffers from similar source selection bias.
Similarly, American folklorist Alan Dundes is highly criticial of both Campbell's approach to folklore, designating him as a "non-expert" and outlining various examples of source bias in Campbell's theories, as well as media representation of Campbell as an expert on the subject of myth in popular culture. Dundes writes, "Folklorists have had some success in publicising the results of our efforts in the past two centuries such that members of other disciplines have, after a minimum of reading, believe they are qualified to speak authoritively of folkloristic matters. It seems that the world is full of self-proclaimed experts in folklore, and a few, such as Campbell, have been accepted as such by the general public (and public television, in the case of Campbell)". According to Dundes, "there is no single idea promulgated by amateurs that has done more harm to serious folklore study than the notion of archetype".
According to anthropologist Raymond Scupin, "Joseph Campbell's theories have not been well received in anthropology because of his overgeneralizations, as well as other problems."
Campbell's Sanskrit scholarship has been questioned. Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, a former Sanskrit professor at the University of Toronto, said that he once met Campbell, and that the two "hated each other at sight", commenting that, "When I met Campbell at a public gathering, he was quoting Sanskrit verses. He had no clue as to what he was talking about; he had the most superficial knowledge of India but he could use it for his own aggrandizement. I remember thinking: this man is corrupt. I know that he was simply lying about his understanding".According to Richard Buchen, librarian of the Joseph Campbell Collection at the Pacifica Graduate Institute, Campbell could not translate Sanskrit well. However, Buchen adds that Campbell worked closely with three scholars who did translate Sanskrit well.
Ellwood observes that The Masks of God series "impressed literate laity more than specialists"; he quotes Stephen P. Dunn as remarking that in Occidental Mythology Campbell "writes in a curiously archaic style – full of rhetorical questions, exclamations of wonder and delight, and expostulations directed at the reader, or perhaps at the author's other self – which is charming about a third of the time and rather annoying the rest." Ellwood notes that "Campbell was not really a social scientist, and those in the latter camp could tell" and records a concern about Campbell's "oversimpification of historical matters and tendency to make myth mean whatever he wanted it to mean". The critic Camille Paglia, writing in Sexual Personae (1990), expressed disagreement with Campbell's "negative critique of fifth-century Athens" in Occidental Mythology, arguing that Campbell missed the "visionary and exalted" androgyny in Greek statues of nude boys. Paglia has written that while Campbell is "a seminal figure for many American feminists", she loathes him for his "mawkishness and bad research." Paglia has called Campbell "mushy" and a "false teacher", and described his work as a "fanciful, showy mishmash".
Campbell has also been accused of antisemitism by some authors. In a 1989 New York Review of Books article, Brendan Gill accused Campbell of both antisemitism and prejudice against blacks.Gill's article resulted in a series of letters to the editor, some supporting the charge of antisemitism or accusing Campbell of having various right-wing biases, others defending him. However, according to Robert Ellwood, Gill relied on "scraps of evidence, largely anecdotal" to support his charges. In 1991, Masson also accused Campbell of "hidden anti-Semitism" and "fascination with conservative, semifascistic views". Contrarily, the "fascist undercurrents" in Campbell's work and especially its influence on Star Wars have been called "a reminder of how easily totalitarianism can knock at any society's door."
The religious studies scholar Russell T. McCutcheon characterized the "following [of] the bliss of self-realization" in Campbell's work as "spiritual and psychological legitimation" for Reaganomics.
The first published work that bore Campbell's name was Where the Two Came to Their Father (1943), an account of a Navajo ceremony that was performed by singer (medicine man) Jeff King and recorded by artist and ethnologist Maud Oakes, recounting the story of two young heroes who go to the hogan of their father, the Sun, and return with the power to destroy the monsters that are plaguing their people. Campbell provided a commentary. He would use this tale through the rest of his career to illustrate both the universal symbols and structures of human myths and the particulars ("folk ideas") of Native American stories.
As noted above, James Joyce was an important influence on Campbell. Campbell's first important book (with Henry Morton Robinson), A Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake (1944), is a critical analysis of Joyce's final text Finnegans Wake . In addition, Campbell's seminal work, The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949), discusses what Campbell called the monomyth – the cycle of the journey of the hero – a term that he borrowed directly from Joyce's Finnegans Wake .
From his days in college through the 1940s, Joseph Campbell turned his hand to writing fiction.In many of his later stories (published in the posthumous collection Mythic Imagination) he began to explore the mythological themes that he was discussing in his Sarah Lawrence classes. These ideas turned him eventually from fiction to non-fiction.
Originally titled How to Read a Myth, and based on the introductory class on mythology that he had been teaching at Sarah Lawrence College, The Hero with a Thousand Faces was published in 1949 as Campbell's first foray as a solo author; it established his name outside of scholarly circles and remains, arguably, his most influential work to this day. The book argues that hero stories such as Krishna, Buddha, Apollonius of Tyana, and Jesus all share a similar mythological basis.Not only did it introduce the concept of the hero's journey to popular thinking, but it also began to popularize the very idea of comparative mythology itself—the study of the human impulse to create stories and images that, though they are clothed in the motifs of a particular time and place, draw nonetheless on universal, eternal themes. Campbell asserted:
Wherever the poetry of myth is interpreted as biography, history, or science, it is killed. The living images become only remote facts of a distant time or sky. Furthermore, it is never difficult to demonstrate that as science and history, mythology is absurd. When a civilization begins to reinterpret its mythology in this way, the life goes out of it, temples become museums, and the link between the two perspectives becomes dissolved.
Published between 1959 and 1968, Campbell's four-volume work The Masks of God covers mythology from around the world, from ancient to modern. Where The Hero with a Thousand Faces focused on the commonality of mythology (the "elementary ideas"), the Masks of God books focus upon historical and cultural variations the monomyth takes on (the "folk ideas"). In other words, where The Hero with a Thousand Faces draws perhaps more from psychology, the Masks of God books draw more from anthropology and history. The four volumes of Masks of God are as follows: Primitive Mythology, Oriental Mythology, Occidental Mythology, and Creative Mythology .
The book is quoted by proponents of the Christ myth theory. Campbell writes, "It is clear that, whether accurate or not as to biographical detail, the moving legend of the Crucified and Risen Christ was fit to bring a new warmth, immediacy, and humanity, to the old motifs of the beloved Tammuz, Adonis, and Osiris cycles."
At the time of his death, Campbell was in the midst of working on a large-format, lavishly illustrated series titled Historical Atlas of World Mythology. This series was to build on Campbell's idea, first presented in The Hero with a Thousand Faces, that myth evolves over time through four stages:
Only the first volume was completed at the time of Campbell's death. Campbell's editor Robert Walter completed the publication of the first three of five parts of the second volume after Campbell's death. The works are now out of print. As of 2014 [update] , Joseph Campbell Foundation is currently undertaking to create a new, ebook edition.
Campbell's widest popular recognition followed his collaboration with Bill Moyers on the PBS series The Power of Myth , which was first broadcast in 1988, the year following Campbell's death. The series discusses mythological, religious, and psychological archetypes. A book, The Power of Myth, containing expanded transcripts of their conversations, was released shortly after the original broadcast.
The Collected Works of Joseph Campbell series is a project initiated by the Joseph Campbell Foundation to release new, authoritative editions of Campbell's published and unpublished writing, as well as audio and video recordings of his lectures. as of 2014 [update] the project has produced over seventy-five titles. The series's executive editor is Robert Walter, and the managing editor is David Kudler.Working with New World Library and Acorn Media UK, as well as publishing audio recordings and ebooks under its own banner,
Christian mythology is the body of myths associated with Christianity and the Bible. The term encompasses a broad variety of legends and stories, especially those considered sacred narratives. Mythological themes and elements occur throughout Christian literature, including recurring myths such as ascending to a mountain, the axis mundi, myths of combat, descent into the Underworld, accounts of a dying-and-rising god, flood stories, stories about the founding of a tribe or city, and myths about great heroes of the past, paradises, and self-sacrifice.
Mythology is the main component of Religion. It refers to systems of concepts that are of high importance to a certain community, making statements concerning the supernatural or sacred. Religion is the broader term, besides mythological system, it includes ritual. A given mythology is almost always associated with a certain religion such as Greek mythology with Ancient Greek religion. Disconnected from its religious system, a myth may lose its immediate relevance to the community and evolve—away from sacred importance—into a legend or folktale.
The Hero with a Thousand Faces is a work of comparative mythology by Joseph Campbell, in which the author discusses his theory of the mythological structure of the journey of the archetypal hero found in world myths.
The Power of Myth is a book based on the 1988 PBS documentary Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth. The documentary was originally broadcast as six one-hour conversations between mythologist Joseph Campbell (1904–1987) and journalist Bill Moyers. It remains one of the most popular series in the history of American public television.
Mythopoeia is a narrative genre in modern literature and film where a fictional or artificial mythology is created by the writer of prose or other fiction. This meaning of the word mythopoeia follows its use by J. R. R. Tolkien in the 1930s. The authors in this genre integrate traditional mythological themes and archetypes into fiction.
In narratology and comparative mythology, the monomyth, or the hero's journey, is the common template of a broad category of tales and lore that involves a hero who goes on an adventure, and in a decisive crisis wins a victory, and then comes home changed or transformed.
Comparative mythology is the comparison of myths from different cultures in an attempt to identify shared themes and characteristics. Comparative mythology has served a variety of academic purposes. For example, scholars have used the relationships between different myths to trace the development of religions and cultures, to propose common origins for myths from different cultures, and to support various psychological theories.
John Shelton Lawrence is an emeritus professor of philosophy at Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa, United States. His initial major publication, The American Monomyth, written with Robert Jewett, was published in 1977.
Archetypal literary criticism is a type of critical theory that interprets a text by focusing on recurring myths and archetypes in the narrative, symbols, images, and character types in literary works. As an acknowledged form of literary criticism, it dates back to 1934 when Classical scholar Maud Bodkin published Archetypal Patterns in Poetry.
Phil Cousineau is an American author, lecturer, independent scholar, screenwriter, and documentary filmmaker.
Jewish mythology is a major literary element of the body of folklore found in the sacred texts and in traditional narratives that help explain and symbolize Jewish culture and Judaism. Elements of Jewish mythology have had a profound influence on Christian mythology and on Islamic mythology, as well as on world culture in general. Christian mythology directly inherited many of the narratives from the Jewish people, sharing in common the narratives from the Old Testament. Islamic mythology also shares many of the same stories; for instance, a creation-account spaced out over six periods, the legend of Abraham, the stories of Moses and the Israelites, and many more.
The Joseph Campbell Foundation is a US not-for-profit organization dedicated to preserve, protect and perpetuate the work of influential American mythologist Joseph Campbell (1904–1987). It fosters academic and popular discussion in the fields of comparative mythology and religion, psychology and culture through its publishing program, events, local groups and its website.
An origin myth is a myth that purports to describe the origin of some feature of the natural or social world. One type of origin myth is the cosmogonic myth, which describes the creation of the world. However, many cultures have stories set after the cosmogonic myth, which describe the origin of natural phenomena and human institutions within a preexisting universe.
Egyptian mythology is the collection of myths from ancient Egypt, which describe the actions of the Egyptian gods as a means of understanding the world around them. The beliefs that these myths express are an important part of ancient Egyptian religion. Myths appear frequently in Egyptian writings and art, particularly in short stories and in religious material such as hymns, ritual texts, funerary texts, and temple decoration. These sources rarely contain a complete account of a myth and often describe only brief fragments.
Robert Walter is an editor and an executive with several not-for-profit organizations. Most notably, he is the executive director and board president of the Joseph Campbell Foundation (JCF), an organization that he helped found in 1990 with choreographer Jean Erdman, Joseph Campbell's widow.
The Historical Atlas of World Mythology is a multi-volume series of books by Joseph Campbell that traces developments in humankind's mythological symbols and stories from pre-history forward.
David Kudler is an American editor and author. He is best known for editing several posthumous editions of the books by Joseph Campbell, including Pathways to Bliss and the 2008 edition of The Hero with a Thousand Faces.
Greek mythology is the body of myths originally told by the ancient Greeks and a genre of Ancient Greek folklore. These stories concern the origin and the nature of the world, the lives and activities of deities, heroes, and mythological creatures, and the origins and significance of the ancient Greeks' own cult and ritual practices. Modern scholars study the myths in an attempt to shed light on the religious and political institutions of ancient Greece and its civilization, and to gain understanding of the nature of myth-making itself.
The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure For Writers is a popular screenwriting textbook by writer Christopher Vogler, focusing on the theory that most stories can be boiled down to a series of narrative structures and character archetypes, described through mythological allegory. Vogler based this work upon the writings of mythologist Joseph Campbell, particularly The Hero with a Thousand Faces, and holds that all successful films innately adhere to its principles. The book was very well received upon its release, and is often featured in recommended reading lists for student screenwriters.
In narratology and comparative mythology, the Rank–Raglan mythotype is a set of narrative patterns proposed by psychoanalyst Otto Rank and later on amateur anthropologist Lord Raglan that lists different cross-cultural traits often found in the accounts of heroes, including mythical heroes.
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