Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Waiting for a Hero?

John & Sydney's class came on a library field trip this morning to explore The Hero's Journey. They had talked some about Joseph Campbell's archetype in relation to their lit book, Jim the Boy, and how Jim's coming of age might fit the Hero's Journey pattern.

We gathered in the video room to watch the clips below, and talk about what they knew about the Hero's Journey. It's kind of like junior high, really -- the call (finishing 6th grade), crossing the threshhold of no-return, a series of trials and tests (mostly tests, one student insisted), and the return (finishing 8th grade) as a changed person, who brings benefit to the community. We also talked about favorite books & movies that illustrate this pattern (The Hunger Games, The Lightning Thief, Spiderman) -- it's fun to realize that a book you know and love fits into "real" literature discussions.

The first 1:40 of the clip below is a very funny, very quick introduction to all 12 of Campbell's steps in the journey. We didn't watch the rest, but it's worthwhile if you have time.

After the videos and discussion, I talked a bunch of novels from the collection that I think fit the Hero's Journey archetype in significant ways. Not every story has all 12 elements, and not every element is literally applied (some journeys are mental or emotional, some epic battles are against oneself, not a physical enemy). Oh, and not every hero is male, or straight, or human!

Students were encouraged to check out one or more of these books for spring break reading, and challenged to think about which elements of the Hero's Journey they could identify in the novel, and why I might have chosen it for this theme.

Links go to the novel's page in the Paideia Library catalog.

Set in a Different World (or a far, far away time)

Set in Our World (more or less)
Lastly, here's a 7 minute movie created by high school students that also illustrates (with humor) Joseph Campbell's heroic journey. Beware the watchdog!!

Oh, and how could I leave out the sourcebook? Joseph Campbell's groundbreaking study of world mythology, The Hero with A Thousand Faces.

No comments: