The 'Hero's Journey': Personal resonance as response to narrative

Year: 2004

Author: Fitzsimmons, Phil, Nemme, Kori

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper discuses an investigation into the claim made by Joseph Campbell (1949, 1988), that all narratives across all cultures and time have a similar underlying structure which he termed the 'Hero's Journey'. Recognised as a leading authority in the field of anthropology, Campbell asserts that this 'journey' represents the basic ideal of the human psyche and that there is a natural resonance with it.

Using one year six class and their teacher as a case study, this paper details the investigation into Campbell's claim and describes the relationship between using the 'Hero's Journey' (Campbell, 1988) as shared reading experience and personal resonance as response to narrative.

Using observation, collection of artistic and written response to the text and a series of informal and semi-structured interviews, the data gathered clearly indicated a high sense of personal and meaningful connections made by the students as well as a set of unexpected outcomes. While an understanding of the archetypal pattern of the 'Hero's Journey' arose, students reflected on questions of identity, recognized their personal narrative and also related these points to other relevant sources. This reflection motivated a cohesion of thoughts and emotions that also effected the learning environment and the nature of relationships and interactions among class members.

The findings of this project have implications for the implementation of the 'Hero's Journey' as a reader response tool for learning narrative on a meaningful and personal level, and the development of a personal development program incorporating the use of narrative.