Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Guinevere takes her seat at the Round Tableā€”or does she? Moving a primary Western myth forward
by Rich, Janet Bubar, Ph.D., Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2009, 235; 3417878
Abstract (Summary)

Guinevere, or Gwenhwyfar, whose name from the Celtic tradition means phantom, spirit, or faery , is not surprisingly of otherworldly origins. In many myths, however, she loses her otherworldly status and is vilified; in some, she is helpless in ways that accentuate a knight's prowess at protecting her. In the Arthurian romances that are part of our Western tradition and influence such mythologists as Joseph Campbell, Guinevere, who is both exalted and marginalized, remains in the shadows. This work journeys into Guinevere's world, from early Eastern traditions and medieval times to today's Information Age, and gives her and those whom she influences a voice.

In this dissertation, I contend that in the Arthurian romances, Guinevere provides what is needed to see through the outer world to its inner essence, or to perceive the world through soul. She is the anima, the feminine soul who provides the main medium of communication with the deeper aspects of the unconscious and invites soul-making. Further, her development in the mythic cycle reflects C. G. Jung's individuation process and Joseph Campbell's hero journey, as she strives to achieve authenticity in a patriarchal world that limits her ability to express and reveal herself. This work exposes her struggles, honors her otherworldly origins, and imagines her in an androgynous world that allows her to be her own person, marry for love, care for the earth, and tend to soul; not one into which she tries to fit, but one that she helps shape.

Myths create us as we create them. They erupt from and inform our imagination; their symbols, images, and personifications provide role models and road maps that influence the choices we make that become our lives. In such myths as the Arthurian romances, people identify universal themes and see through them to truths. In the tradition of James Hillman who espouses the idea that myth helps people see into and beyond themselves, this work delves into themes that are part of the human experience. Guinevere, who is part of patriarchal myths that reflect and influence cultures, has been in exile. This work imagines her myth forward.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Smith, Evans Lansing
School: Pacifica Graduate Institute
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 71/09, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Folklore, Social psychology, Developmental psychology, Personality psychology
Keywords: Arthurian romances, Authenticity, Feminine soul, Goddess of Sovereignty, Guinevere, Heroine journey
Publication Number: 3417878
ISBN: 978-1-124-14673-7
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