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Joseph Campbell
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JOSEPH CAMPBELL

Joseph Campbell (1904-1987) was a world-renowned mythologist who helped modern society understand the true power that storytelling has in our culture and within our personal lives. He studied and identified the universal themes and archetypes that are present in mythical storytelling across history and across the world. His seminal work, The Hero With a Thousand Faces, outlined what Campbell called the Hero’s Journey, a motif of adventure and personal transformation that is used in nearly every culture’s mythical framework. George Lucas was an avid admirer of Campbell’s writings, and used them as a direct reference in his creation of Star Wars.
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Joseph Campbell (1904-1987) was a world-renowned mythologist who helped modern society understand the true power that storytelling has in our culture and within our personal lives. He studied and identified the universal themes and archetypes that are present in mythical storytelling across history and across the world. His seminal work, The Hero With a Thousand Faces, outlined what Campbell called the Hero’s Journey, a motif of adventure and personal transformation that is used in nearly every culture’s mythical framework. George Lucas was an avid admirer of Campbell’s writings, and used them as a direct reference in his creation of Star Wars.
Over one hundred years ago, on March 26, 1904, Joseph John Campbell was born in White Plains, New York. Joe, as he came to be known, was the first child of a middle-class Roman Catholic couple, Charles and Josephine Campbell. Joe’s earliest years were largely unremarkable; but then, when he was seven years old, his father took him and his younger brother, Charlie, to see Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show. The evening was a high point in Joe’s life; for, although the cowboys were clearly the show’s stars, as Joe would later write.
Campbell attributed what he called his preoccupation with mythology to childhood trips to Buffalo Bill’s Wild West exhibition and to visits to the American Museum of Natural History, where he was fascinated by artifacts of Native Americans. Raised as a Roman Catholic, he saw parallels between seemingly unique Christian beliefs, such as the Virgin Birth of Jesus, and the religious beliefs of Native Americans. Because the similarities between them seemed too close to be coincidental, he concluded that the beliefs could not be the result of independent historical development. That early conclusion implanted in Campbell his fundamental convictions: that similarities rather than differences between myths count most, that mythologies worldwide are related, that myth must be interpreted nonhistorically and nonliterally, and that religions systematically misinterpret their own myths.
When he was seven years old, a turning point in his life occurred. His father took him and his brother Charlie to see Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. He was fascinated by the naked Native American who put his ear to the ground and listened with some special knowledge. He visited the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and absorbed everything he could about Native American society, focusing on mythology. By the time he was ten, he had read everything about Native Americans in the children's section of the library, and that led them to allow him into the adult section to continue his studies. Thus began Campbell's lifelong passion with myth, and to his mapping and study of its seemingly cohesive threads among disparate human cultures.
Joseph John Campbell (March 26, 1904 – October 30, 1987) was an American professor of literature at Sarah Lawrence College who worked in comparative mythology and comparative religion. His work covers many aspects of the human experience. Campbell's best-known work is his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949), in which he discusses his theory of the journey of the archetypal hero shared by world mythologies, termed the monomyth.Since the publication of The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Campbell's theories have been applied by a wide variety of modern writers and artists.
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