Overview of Campbell’s Monomyth
Understanding the relationship between narrative and online course design must begin with a strong foundation of defining narrative structure itself. Campbell (1968) describes the progression of an identified hero through a series of seventeen stages, which he presents “in the form of one composite adventure the tales of a number of the world’s symbolic carriers of the destiny of everyman” (p. 33). Campbell’s description of the Hero’s Journey combines the series of stages into three major units or acts – the hero’s departure into the adventure, the initiation into a series of trials, and the return to the ordinary world with new knowledge or treasure to be shared with his peers. The three major acts of the departure, initiation and return serve as the backbone of the monomyth, which Campbell substantiates with examples spanning multiple continents and time periods, from such diverse sources as the Bhagavad Gita and Sigmund Freud.