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Monday, July 25 • 8:30am - 10:00am
The Heroine’s Journey as a Narrative Structure for Memoir and Myth

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Like Hermes, the archetypal mediator between the realms of heaven, earth and the underworld, the memoirist mediates between time past and time present. Memoirs bring forward an event of the past and re-enact it by giving it form in writing. Myth fuels the psychic desire of humans to understand their origins and therefore their destinies, and contemporary memoirs address some of the same archetypal themes found in ancient myths such as origins, the fall, the parent-child relationship, quest, descent, and return.

The story we tell ourselves and others gives us a sense of identity. It helps us organize our life in a way that gives it meaning and direction. Although not every memoir reflects a mythic theme, most memoir writers unconsciously reveal mythic themes in their desire to find meaning in their lives. Who am I? What is my tribe, my family? Where am I going? How do I make my way? What is my purpose? Both myth and memoir arise from a human need for connection and that is why memoirs are so popular in culture today. 

In 1949, Joseph Campbell presented a model of the mythological journey of the hero, which has since been used as a template for the psycho-spiritual development of the individual and a pattern for many screenplays. The mythic pattern we will explore, however, is the journey of the heroine, the quest to heal the deep wound of our feminine nature on a personal, cultural and spiritual level. We will use the stages of The Heroine’s Journey as a framework for our writing to look at the most significant moments in our lives. The journey often entails an initial separation from the mother and feminine values, seeking recognition and success from the metaphorical father, experiencing spiritual aridity and death, and turning inward to reclaim the power and spirit of the sacred feminine. Through memoir exercises and examining excerpts from published memoirs, we will write our own journey.

avatar for Maureen Murdock

Maureen Murdock

Maureen Murdock, Ph.D. is the author of the best-selling book, The Heroine’s Journey, which explores the rich territory of the feminine psyche. This groundbreaking book was released by Shambhala Publications in 2020 in a 30th anniversary publication. It has been translated into... Read More →

Monday July 25, 2022 8:30am - 10:00am EDT
Room 161 - Judge Science Center