University of Illinois at Chicago
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Initiations of Domestication: A Mythological Exploration of Curriculum in Self, School, and Society

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posted on 2016-02-16, 00:00 authored by D Joe Ohlinger
This is a fictionalized autobiographical dissertation that conceptually explores the intersection of myth and curriculum through the lenses of my lived experiences. It is a qualitative inquiry structured around the 17 stages of the hero’s journey as described by Joseph Campbell (1949) in "The Hero with a Thousand Faces". Campbell’s study of comparative mythology inspired his view that there is an overall pattern in myths around the world that fulfills, in part, a pedagogic function. This pattern, which he calls the "monomyth", is organized into three sections. The first section, which Campbell labels "departure", contains five stages that a hero character typically navigates in preparation for more difficult psychological inner work. The second section, named "initiation", contains six stages and deals with how the character, through a period of trials, transcends his or her epistemological boundaries. The final section, "return", discusses through six stages how the hero returns and integrates into society bearing the gift of his or her newfound knowledge. The chapters in this dissertation match Campbell’s stages conceptually. Methodologically, the dissertation is eclectic, utilizing narrative inquiry, auto-ethnography, and phenomenology to interpret the curriculum of my own life experiences as a student of public education, an educator, member of society, and a human being according to the stages of Campbell’s hero’s journey. The inquiry examines how ancient myths and contemporary narrative structures intersect with my own meanings and interrogates the impact of my own socialization. The purpose of the dissertation is to consider the potential for a spiritualized, subjective curriculum focusing on the development of self and to critique current market-based education ‘reforms.’ This is offered as a substantive and methodological contribution to the field of curriculum studies, in part because Campbell’s hero journey has not been fully explored as a pedagogical and curricular resource.



Schubert, William


Curriculum and Instruction

Degree Grantor

University of Illinois at Chicago

Degree Level

  • Doctoral

Committee Member

Ayers, William Stovall, David He, Ming Fang Hilton, Peter

Submitted date



  • en

Issue date


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