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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The myths we live: Harvesting the writing student's self through heritage
by Pearson, Marlene Joyce, Ph.D., Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2012, 279; 3599488
Abstract (Summary)

The value of heritage, both historical and personal, seems almost lost in a modern world that is defined more by progress than by history. But progress requires both a foundation, and a context. Every individual, family, and culture has a unique story based on a history, and often there are repeating themes in these stories. Over generations, certain truths that are common to human experience have become codified in the mythos of these cultures. In this way, the experience of the individual can be recognized as part of cultural story, and cultural story can be experienced through the individual.

In the absence of either cultural and/or personal story, many individuals do not access the power inherent in the connections to the myths that precede them. But when personal heritage is understood, it can be related to the archetypes that have shaped human experience throughout history. From these connections, a sense of empowerment emerges that comes from understanding the context of one's own life. The diversity that comprises many modern communities, including the university community, can be experienced as a rich mixture of interconnected stories.

Providing a platform to explore individual identity through heritage and cultural myth, this dissertation presents a university level writing course which combines freshman composition with an exploration of heritage and myth. Over a course of ten weeks, writing assignments are thematically connected, requiring students to do research and in-class activities, facilitating their understanding of personal story and the cultural archetypes which are reflective of their own experiences. The historical, philosophical, and psychological basis justifying and supporting these activities is explored and explained through works of C. G. Jung, Joseph Campbell, James Hillman, and others.

This curriculum, with occasional modifications, has been used successfully. Examples of student experiences, reflections and participation comments from students are included that summarize the experiences of individuals who have participated in this writing course. What emerges from the course is a community of students who are diverse, but connected; who understand both themselves and one another in new and unique ways through the stories they explore, write, and share with one another.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Mahaffey, Patrick
Commitee: Houghton, Mona, White, Dana
School: Pacifica Graduate Institute
Department: Mythological Studies
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 75/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Literature, Philosophy, Clinical psychology
Keywords: Campbell, Joseph, Depth psychology, Jung, Carl, Memoir, Personal mythology
Publication Number: 3599488
ISBN: 978-1-303-48777-4
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