Storytelling: The Hero with a Thousand Faces

[Editor’s Note: This article was written by Marla Cartwright of the CTL.]

As part of the Innovations Lab ongoing Storytelling Series, I thought it would be fitting to mention the “biggest” story ever told. Or, as Joseph Campbell would put it, the *only* story ever told. I mean, of course, the monomyth. From Wikipedia: “Campbell explores the theory that important myths from around the world which have survived for thousands of years all share a fundamental structure, which Campbell called the monomyth.”

Does that sound too academic? Perhaps too theoretical to apply to our everyday lives? Well, consider that Campbell’s monomyth guides virtually every recognized and dearly-held pop icon, lending powerful structure and cohesion to stories like the following:

From ancient Greek myths to our most treasured cultural figures of today, the monomyth stories touch a deep collective unconscious full of meaningful symbols and acts that define a “hero” across cultures and ages.

It’s interesting to consider which stories we enjoy today will be told and re-told (or viewed and re-viewed) by generations from now. How will the myth reform itself?



2 responses to “Storytelling: The Hero with a Thousand Faces

  1. I really enjoyed this work when I was in college and sadly have not looked back on Campbell much since then. It is fascinating to read that cultures across the world with no contact to each other have developed the same basic stories to explain and understand human experience. Luke Skywalker has been around for a LOOOOOOOONG time 🙂

    • Hey Ron! Welcome to the Innovations Lab Blog! You made it!

      I like the write up Marla did on this topic. Neat to think about!


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