Revitalizing the pedagogical approach to the hero's journey

Date of Award


Degree Name

M.A . in English


Department of English


Bryan Bardine


Joseph Campbell’s monomyth, or the hero’s journey, delves into the significance of the protagonist’s character development and acceptance of the “call” during and after a series of quests and heroic acts that are outlined in his seventeen-step process which follows the plot from the first page to the resolution of the tale (Campbell, A Hero with a Thousand Faces ii). The hero’s journey is a cycle, always restarting with a new call to accept and acknowledge the cyclical nature of life’s events. While Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey is an accepted mode through which to analyze the plot structure of certain novels and films, it can be argued that Campbell’s systematic model for the hero should be updated for the modern reader to include a more diverse path for heroes that do not conform to the typecast white, male hero who comes to save the day; the current model is insubstantial to account for the modern-day hero in updated literature and media in which the hero faces discrimination and overcomes the threat to achieve their completed cyclical journey. Diverse protagonists allow the readers who experience the stories to question and critique the societal structures that provide obstacles for heroes in modern life; providing more diversity in characters allows students to explore their individuality as well as critiquing the society that dictates physical, mental, and emotional challenges for modern heroes. This practicum will provide an analysis of Joseph Campbell’s work to understand why Campbell’s model has been commonly employed in the classroom and involve a unit plan that modernizes the hero’s journey. My ultimate goal is to construct new thresholds for the hero’s journey based on Campbell’s original pattern that invites an updated pathway for modern heroes to be tracked and discussed. Subsequently, discussing how to create this new threshold while adhering to an inclusive pedagogical standard by using culturally relevant teaching (CRT) is at the forefront of my unit plan and practicum. I employ an updated model of the said journey with an additional step for discrimination by which to understand and define a hero using a variety of texts, classic literary canon, and modern young adult literature. By crafting a mechanism to evaluate texts according to principles for inclusion and diversity in order to reach more students and engage them in literature. As diverse individuals have often been left out of the literary canon, the hero’s journey is usually taught in a formulaic manner through a cis, male perspective and the study of heroes has an important role to play in regard to students’ development of their self-identity. The unit plan is based on an updated model of the journey that will allow young, secondary school readers to more deeply connect with the hero’s journey and, through their narrative work and literary analyses, more deeply consider the importance of literature in their personal lives when the protagonists are more diverse. I constructed an updated model that accounts for the discriminatory practices that heroes face, inviting contemporary discourse about the various steps of the hero’s journey; furthermore, allowing the heroes in question to be critiqued and analyzed through a modern lens.


Teaching, Heroes Journey, Joseph Campbell, Culturally Relevant Teaching

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