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From Achilles to Harry Potter: How the hero’s journey helps, and limits, our storytelling

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The concept of the hero’s journey was popularized by Joseph Campbell and outlined in his 1949 book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Campbell based the hero’s journey framework off of myths from around the world. Since then, the idea of the hero’s journey has been used in popular books and movies from Star Wars through Harry Potter to The Hunger Games and beyond.

But, despite its popularity, Campbell’s hero’s journey framework has faced a number of criticisms, including that he left women out of the story. Maria Tatar’s new book, The Heroine with 1,001 Faces, changes that.

This hour, a look at the impact of the hero’s journey — and at its limitations.


The Colin McEnroe Show is available as a podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. Subscribe and never miss an episode!

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Colin McEnroe, Eugene Amatruda, Jonathan McNicol, and Cat Pastor contributed to this show, which originally aired June 30, 2022.

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Lily is the senior producer for The Colin McEnroe Show. She first worked at Connecticut Public as an intern in 2014. She has previously worked for WBUR, KUNC and as a producer for the New England News Collaborative's weekly show Next. Lily can be reached at ltyson@ctpublic.org.
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