DATE: Monday, December 3, 2012
TIME: 6:30 p.m
PLACE: South Hall, Lambert Road campus
CANDIDATE: Jody Gentian Bower
DISSERTATION TITLE: "She’s Leaving Home: Recurrent Motifs in Women’s Narratives"
PROGRAM-TRACK/YEAR: PhD-E; 2008
CHAIR: Dr. Laura Grillo
READER: Dr. Christine Downing
EXTERNAL READER: Dr. Annis Pratt
Bower, J. (2012). She’s Leaving Home: Recurrent Motifs in Women’s Narratives (Doctoral dissertation, Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2012)
In his 1947 book The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell argues that there is a “monomyth,” a single story told across time and across cultures, that represents the hero’s quest to achieve mature adulthood. Many writers have since proposed corresponding models for heroines. However, these alternative models are for the most part either derivative of Campbell’s work, or based on counseling work with women clients instead of on stories. The models based on Campbell’s heroic quest pattern often involve strenuous efforts to make the stages of the heroine’s journey equivalent to those of the heroic quest. Moreover, these efforts are limited by Campbell’s male-oriented terminology and thinking, omitting all those aspects of the female journey that are wholly different. Models based on the psychological journeys of real women are limited by the times and culture of the women surveyed (usually mid- to late 20th century American women).
Other writers have examined stories to find a distinct female voice or identify concerns particular to women. This effort has engendered an enduring debate over whether or not women writers do have an identifiable, different voice. If they do, is this distinct voice proof that women are essentially different from men or evidence only that women have been forced into the position of “other” by society?
This dissertation employs the hermeneutic method of epistrophe as delineated by James Hillman to return to the image and let it speak for itself. It first identifies and then examines the motifs that recur again and again in fictional works featuring a female heroine, written by Western female authors from the 1300s through the present, to identify the elements of the heroine’s story as women see it. Biographies of famous women are also surveyed. Interpretations of the motifs from many viewpoints are included, without privileging one over another. This work finds that the heroine’s story as told by women often follows a pattern that differs in most respects from Campbell’s heroic quest model. This pattern may represent a positive re-imagining by women of women’s lives.
Keywords: heroine, heroine’s journey, women, narrative, fiction, archetypesPlease note: All oral defense attendees must shuttle from the Best Western Hotel in Carpinteria.