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Campbell Centered Reading List for Community College

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    I teach English at a small community college and I am eager to use more works that lend themselves to Campbellian analysis and discussion. The course outline for the section in question is broad and allows for a great deal of freedom in the choice of texts.

    The course is in critical analysis of literature, the description for which is as follows: “This course teaches students to apply critical thinking and research skills in reading, analyzing and writing about literary genres in order to formulate arguments.” Many instructors organize their course around a handful of works that lend themselves to analysis through feminist, post-colonial, Marxist, etc, lenses. Others may focus on only on or two theories and apply them to their discussion of all the readings handled that semester. I am planning on doing something more like the latter, with a Jungian and Campbellian orientation.

    As you are aware, there are a great many resources for teaching Campbell’s Monomyth, but I wanted to include primary works of various genres that exemplify Campbell’s discussions of topics such as the journey inwards, the Goddess, myth and modern society, as well as other concepts central to Campbell’s works and teaching.

    Any thoughts are appreciated. How would you organize such a course? What do you think are some literary works that exemplify Campbell’s theories. What do you think are the major concepts most central to understanding Campbell’s work?

    My motivation for this change in focus is partly selfish: Campbell’s thinking influenced me and gave me direction in my late teens and twenties. My thinking about life, in many ways, I think is directly attributable to Campbell. But I have long neglected those readings and haven’t engaged much with Campbell for many years; however, a recent injury and some bad health have found me turning back to his books and lectures. I am trying to follow Campbell’s advice to identify with the consciousness that animates this organism rather than the organism itself. Campbell’s teachings are a great comfort and help.

    But my motivations aren’t entirely selfish. I think students will benefit from a semester-length engagement with Campbell. Young adults are entering into complex words, awash in ideology and spin. Campbell, on the other hand, can help us ground ourselves in ideas of timeless significance. And I think I can bring a level of enthusiasm and passion to his discussion, an enthusiasm that I have found hard to achieve when dutifully teaching literary theories and works that hold less interest for me.

    Thank you for your consideration,




    Hi Derrick,

    I moved your post from the MythBlasts forum (which is focused on discussing the MythBlast essays posted on JCF’s home page) to our Mythological Resources forum. A good place to begin might be to trawl through the reading list Joseph Campbell assigned students in his mythology course at Sarah Lawrence and see which works you feel would be relevant for students today (click on the link to access the list, which is archived in our Mythological Resources database; the PDF shows up in huge print on my laptop, so I’d recommend Zooming Out to view – but I’ll copy and paste Joe’s list below for convenience):

    Ovid. Metamorphoses. Trans. Allen Mandelbaum. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1993.

    Frazer, Sir James George. The Golden Bough. One-volume ed. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1922. Also, abridged from the second and third editions, ed. Robert Frazer. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.

    Durkheim, Emile. The Elementary Forms of Religious Life. Trans. Karen E. Fields. New York: The Free Press, 1994.

    Levy-Bruhl, Lucien. How Natives Think. Trans. Lilian A. Clare. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985.

    Freud, Sigmund. The Interpretation of Dreams. Trans. James Strachey. New York: Basic Books, 1995.

    —. Three Contributions to a Theory of Sex. Trans. A. A. Brill. New York: E.P. Dutton, 1962.

    —. Totem and Taboo. Trans. A. A. Brill. New York: Vintage Books, 1950.

    —. Moses and Monotheism. Trans. Katherine A. Jones. New York:Vintage Books, 1967

    Jung, Carl Gustav. Integration of the Personality. Trans. Stanley M. Dell. New York and Toronto: Farrar & Rinehart, 1939.

    – .The Secret of the Golden Flower: A Chinese Book of Life. Translated and explained by Richard Wilhelm, with a foreword and commentary by C. G. Jung. Revised and augmented edition. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1962.

    The Tibetan Book of the Dead, or, The After-Death Experiences on the Bardo Plane: according to Lama Kazi Dawa-Samdup’s English renderings. Compiled and edited by W. Y. Evans-Wentz. New York: Oxford University Press, 1960.

    Coomaraswamy, Ananda. The Dance of Ṥiva. London: Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent and Co., 1924. Reprint. New York: Dover Publications, 1985.

    The Bhagavad Gita. Trans. W. J. Johnson. Oxford and New York:Oxford University Press, 1994.

    Okakuru, Kazuko. The Book of Tea. Tokyo & New York: Kodansha International, 1989.

    Watts, Alan. The Way of Zen. New York: Pantheon, 1957.

    Herrigel, Eugen. Zen in the Art of Archery. Trans. R. F. C. Hull. New York: Vintage Books, 1989.

    Lao-Tze, The Canon of Reason and Virtue (Tao Te Ching). Chinese and English. Trans. D. T. Suzuki and Paul Carus. La Salle, Ill: Open Court, 1974.

    Sun-Tzu, The Art of War. Trans. Thomas Cleary. Boston: Shambhala, 1988.

    Confucius, Analects. Trans. and annotated by Arthur Waley. Reprint of 1938 Allen & Unwin edition. London and Boston: Unwin Hyman, 1988.

    —. The Great Digest and Unwobbling Pivot. Trans. Ezra Pound. New York, 1951.

    Chiera, Edward, They Wrote in Clay; The Babylonian Tablets Speak Today. Ed. George G. Cameron. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1938.

    Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. The Birth of Tragedy. Trans. Walter Kaufmann. New York: Vintage Books, 1967.

    Bible, New Testament, Book of Luke 

    Aeschylus. Prometheus Bound. Trans. James Scully and C. J. Herrington. New York: Oxford University Press, 1975.

    Euripides. Hyppolytus. Trans. Richard Lattimore, In Four Tragedies. Chicago: University of Chicago, 1955.

    —. Alcestis. Trans. William Arrowsmith. New York: Oxford University Press, 1974.

    Sophocles. Oedipus Tyrannus. Trans. and ed. by Luci Berkowitz & Theodore F. Brunner. A Norton Critical Edition. New York, Norton, 1970.

    Plato. Phaedrus. Trans. R. Hackforth, in The Collected Dialogues of Plato. Ed. Edith Hamilton & Huntington Cairns. Bollingen Series LCXXI. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1961.

    —. Symposium. Trans. Michael Joyce, in The Collected Dialogues of Plato.

    The Koran. Trans. N. J. Dawood. 3rd rev. ed. Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1968.

    The Portable Arabian Nights. Ed. Joseph Campbell. New York: Viking Books, 1951.

    Beowulf. Trans. Lucien Dean Pearson. Ed. Rowland L. Collins. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1965.

    Prose Edda of Snorri Sturluson. Trans. Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur. New York: The American-Scandinavian Foundation, 1916. Also, trans. Jean I. Young. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1964.

    Poetic Edda. Trans. Henry Adams Bellows. New York: The American-Scandinavian Foundation, 1926. Also, trans. Lee N. Hollander. 2nd ed., rev. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1962.

    The Mabinogion. Trans. Jeffrey Gantz. New York: Dorset Press, 1985.

    Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm. Grimm’s Fairy Tales. New York: Pantheon, 1944.

    Adams, Henry. Mont Saint Michel and Chartres. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1932. Also New York: New American Library, 1961.

    Boas, Franz. Race, Language, and Culture. New York: The Macmillan Co., 1940.

    Mann, Thomas. Tonio Krøger, trans. H. T. Lowe-Porter, in Stories of Three Decades. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1936.

    Thompson, Stith. Tales of the North American Indians. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1929.

    Opler, Morris Edward. Myths and Tales of the Jicarilla Apache Indians. New York: The American Folk-lore Society, 1938.

    Benedict, Ruth. Patterns of Culture. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1934, 1989.

    Stimson, John. E. Legends of Maui and Tahaki. Honolulu: The Museum, 1934.

    Melville, Herman. Typee. The Library of America. New York: Literary Classics of the United States, distrib. by the Viking Press, 1982.

    Frobenius, Leo, and Douglas C. Fox. African Genesis. New York: B. Blom, 1966.

    Radin, Paul. African Folktales and Sculpture. 2nd ed., rev., with additions. New York: Pantheon Books, 1964.

    Deren, Maya. Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti. New Paltz, NY: McPherson, 1983.


    Hello, Stephen,

    Thank you for the resource. It has already proven helpful.


    Derrick – there are many works as well that have been written since Campbell’s passing. One of the best, from my perspective, is Lewis Hyde’s Trickster Makes This World (a truly delightful read). Another is the elegant and profound The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World, from David Abrams. I also highly recommend Anne Baring’s and Jules Cashford’s The Myth of the Goddess: Evolution of an Image – a well-researched, comprehensive look at how the mythic image of the Goddess has morphed from the period of the paleolithic stone figurines on down to the present, very much in sync with Joseph Campbell, Carl Jung, and James Hillman – this specifically speaks to your mention of the Goddess in your initial post – it’s a thick volume, but well worth it. And then The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony is an amazing “novel” (it’s ever so much more than that – fluid and dreamlike) encompassing the whole of Greek mythology, from the pen of the creative Florentine author, Roberto Calasso.

    These four volumes have been game-changers for me.

    Trickster Makes This World Spell of the Sensuous The Myth of the Goddess The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony

    Are there any works you have used in class that you would recommend, Derrick?



    Excellent exchange!

    Stephen, exciting reading list.

    Thank you 🙏


    Thank you, Juan!

    Feel free to add any works you have found helpful as well. It might help to include here a list of Spanish titles published since Campbell’s passage in the field of mythology and/or psychology that you feel are significant, as a resource for Spanish speakers.


    Hi, Stephen,

    The titles you recommend look exciting. You have helped me get my summer reading off to a great start!

    In my previous discussions of the Monomyth, I have used Stephen Mitchell’s translation of Gilgamesh. Students enjoy it and it is a good text from which to explore the Hero’s Journey.

    I am looking for primary texts (like The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony) as well as more theoretical secondary sources that help us better understand the primary texts and how they evince Campbell’s theories (like Myth of the Goddess). So your recommendations are much appreciated.

    I also invite any recommendations for works of contemporary fiction that are reflective of diverse cultural, linguistic, socioeconomic, and religious backgrounds and are productively examined through a mythological lens. I have found The Road to Tamazunchale and Bless Me, Ultima good titles for Campbellian analysis as well reflecting the lives and experiences of many of my students here in Southern California.

    With gratitude,



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