Turning the Soul: Humanities and the Hero's Journey

Presented with Strand Bookstore


Today, humanities studies the material conditions of texts and works of art without giving an account of the relationship between this knowledge and the soul of the student.  I.e the student is given information yet no instruction on how to put it into action in daily life. But is it possible for humanities to function without an acknowledgment of the soul? 

This Olio discusses the work of Freud and Nietzche to demonstrate the need for a different kind of humanities which is not merely materialistic. The conception of the hero (one who goes on an inward journey to face their unconscious and emerge victorious, with new insight and creative power) plays a central role in Nietzche and Freud's construction of humanities. Within their writings we meet with two different aspects of the hero on a spiritual quest. Applying the hero's journey to the teacher-student dynamic makes room for a fulfilling and transformative kind of education.

We will uncover the relationship between these two conceptions of the hero and in doing so, we'll take up the secret battle between instinct and knowledge and the role it plays in humanities today.

"The modern hero, the modern individual who dares to heed the call and seek the mansion of that presence with whom it is our whole destiny to be atoned, cannot, indeed must not, wait for his community to cast off its slough of pride, fear, rationalized avarice, and sanctified misunderstanding. … It is not society that is to guide and save the creative hero, but precisely the reverse. And so every one of us shares the supreme ordeal—carries the cross of the redeemer—not in the bright moments of his tribe’s great victories, but in the silences of his personal despair.” - Joseph Campbell




Location: Strand Bookstore

828 Broadway, New York, NY 10003

The Rare Book Room at Strand Bookstore boasts an elegant venue, the walls lined with leather-bound treasures from a book hand printed in 1480 to a limited edition Ulysses signed by Henri Matisse, the illustrator, and by James Joyce. 


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