Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Learning to live in the layers: Traveling soul's way through poetry
by Collins, Kathryn, Ph.D., Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2014, 264; 3616590
Abstract (Summary)

Poetry can be a portal into the inner world, a doorway into the psychological space in which one might encounter the vast array of archetypal motifs—the seed forms—that structure human experience. Poetry compels a reexamination of the cultural stories upon which ordinary perception is based and awakens a mythic, or poietic, consciousness, leading toward more soulful and meaningful interpretations of life—what scholar James Hillman calls "soul-making."

There are two major reasons for this. First, the heightened and compressed language of a poem requires slow and careful reading, facilitating a more intimate encounter with its subject than typically occurs in other types of reading. Second, because it is based in metaphorical language, poetry demonstrates the art of analogizing—of making new connections between the layers of life. In its drawing of novel parallels between things, events, feelings, and relationships, poetry invites readers to likewise examine and re-imagine their own experiences in order to imbue them with a deeper sense of meaning.

Despite poetry's focus on universal themes, however, the reading and enjoyment of poetry is a less than universal pastime. Particularly in the West, engagement with poetry remains trapped primarily in academic circles, leaving too many people with inadequate access to its "soul-making" properties. By weaving together the threads of a number of disciplines, including depth psychology, phenomenological philosophy, literary theory, reading theory, and maieutic education, this dissertation examines poetry's potential as a tool for transforming human perception and presents a method for moving the study of poetry deeper into the cultural mainstream. The production piece that accompanies the dissertation, a curriculum for use with small groups of adults titled "Living in the Layers: Traveling Soul's Way through Poetry," provides self-explanatory study materials through which small group leaders and individual students may enter into a depth-psychological encounter with a variety of classic and contemporary poems. Key words: Poetry, Depth Psychology, Maieutic Education, Soul-Making, Spiritual Transformation, Small Groups

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Smith, Evans Lansing
Commitee: Dols, William, Zolbrod, Paul
School: Pacifica Graduate Institute
Department: Mythological Studies
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 75/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Personality psychology, Spirituality
Keywords: Depth psychology, Maieutic education, Poetry, Small groups, Soul-making, Spiritual transformation
Publication Number: 3616590
ISBN: 9781303834424
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