Campbell's Doctoral Thesis

Who was Joseph Campbell? What is a myth? What does "Follow Your Bliss" mean? If you are new to the work of Joseph Campbell, this forum is a good place to start.

Moderators: Clemsy, Martin_Weyers, Cindy B.

Locked
Guest

Post by Guest » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Where can I find Joseph Campbell's Doctoral Thesis? I'd love to get ahold of it. Is it published? What field did he get it in--I assume there were no Comparitive Religion departments in the Twenties!
David_Kudler
Working Associate
Posts: 924
Joined: Mon Aug 27, 2001 5:03 am
Location: Mill Valley, California
Contact:

Post by David_Kudler » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

As it turns out, that's a trick question--Campbell was a Mr., not a Dr. He did receive an MA from Columbia--no thesis, as far as we know--and did several years of study abroad working towards a doctorate in Medieval Literature. But he chose not to complete the degree. Here's his account in his own words, from the The Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living a lovely—if quirky—set of transcribed lectures that Campbell gave during one of his famous birthday gatherings at Esalen (see our Events page):
IF you’re getting a degree to compen-sate for an inferiority complex, give up the complex, because it’s an artificial thing.
When you’re going for a degree, you don’t do what you want to do. You find out what the professor wants you to do to get the degree, and you just do it. If you want a degree so you can teach, the idea is to get the degree in the quickest, easiest way. When you have it, then you can expand and get your education.
I was given a fellowship to go to Europe, and I went to the University of Paris. I was working on medieval French and Provençal and on the troubadour poetry. When I got to Europe, I discovered Modern Art: James Joyce, Picasso, Mondrian—the whole bunch of them. Paris in 1927–28 was something else. Then I went to Germany and started studying Sanskrit and got all involved in Hinduism. I discovered Jung while in Germany. Everything was opening up—this way, that way. Well, my question then was, “Am I going to go back into that bottle?” My interest in Celtic Romance was gone.
I went to the university and said, “Listen, I don’t want to get back into that bottle.” I had put in all the hours necessary for the degree; all I had to do was write that goddamn thesis. They wouldn’t let me move into another place and continue my education, so I said to hell with it. I went up into the woods and spent five
years reading. I never got the Ph.D. I learned to live on absolutely nothing. I was free and had no responsibili-ties. It was marvelous.
_________________
David Kudler

Publishing Director

Joseph Campbell Foundation

publications at jcf dot org

(take out the spaces and replace the "at" with "@" and the "dot" with ".")

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: David_Kudler on 2002-08-08 03:07 ]</font>

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: David_Kudler on 2002-08-08 03:07 ]</font>
jump_man72
Associate
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Oct 30, 2002 6:00 am
Location: Whittier, CA USA

Post by jump_man72 » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

I agree fully with Joseph Campbell's rational for not pursuing his PHD. Following my bliss has led me to be void of formal education, but I've supplemented it with a PHD equivalency in self-education. Personally and professionally I have grown into an applied intelligence expert. I've schooled myself by constantly attacking those weak areas in my life and fixing them immediately. The basic understanding of life and my place in it are my guides. Year after year everything slows down and good choices are easier to make and better results are garnered. Life can be simple when you stop listening to others and start listening to yourself.
Bliss 5150
Associate
Posts: 82
Joined: Sun Oct 10, 2004 7:48 pm

Post by Bliss 5150 » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

I have found that when you are learning things that interest you, but not those because they are said to important, you begin can begin to solve your own problems. Campbell used a term called “Cryptamnesia,” where the information is still being absorbed, despite you being aware of it. The deep psychological problems—that one sometimes experiences in those quite-alone times in life—will surface and usually seem too big to deal with. I have found when you go back to the things that interest you, and review them; you are subconsciously guided to a solution or answer. It has worked several times for me.

This cannot be done while being under “the authorities.” Each person has a unique track to follow. Follow your bliss.


User avatar
Martin_Weyers
Working Associate
Posts: 4054
Joined: Mon Mar 25, 2002 6:00 am
Location: Odenwald
Contact:

Post by Martin_Weyers » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Thanks for your insights, Bliss 5150!

I didn't know that term Cryptamnesia at all, but I'm thankful to hear about it.

I know that technique as described by yourself quite well: Once you feel stuck, it may be better - at least at first - to go back to your original feelings and ideas, than to go to the doctor!

Referring to the topic of this thread more in general: Please respect the doctors! There wouldn't be any reliable information if there were no academics.

_________________
Kunst, Symbole, Mythologie

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Martin_Weyers on 2005-09-25 20:29 ]</font>
Siddha
Associate
Posts: 1310
Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2004 5:00 am
Location: Calgary, Canada
Contact:

Post by Siddha » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Another Campbell Gem!
When you have it, then you can expand and get your education.
As Martin says it is important to respect the PhD's and Masters and the self educated. I think it goes beyond saying that after one gets a degree in anything the real education begins! <IMG SRC="/forum/images/smiles/icon_wink.gif">

User avatar
bodhibliss
Working Associate
Posts: 1659
Joined: Tue Oct 07, 2003 5:00 am

Post by bodhibliss » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

On the other hand, Joseph Campbell did earn his Master's Degree, and then studied beyond that in Europe on a Proudfit Fellowship, before ultimately deciding against jumping through the doctoral hoops.

Joe's Master's thesis is titled "A Study of the Dolorous Stroke," exploring the Wasteland motif in Arthurian lore ... which suggests a remarkably consistent thread running through Campbell's life, given that he continued to amplify and expand on this theme the next sixty years!

bodhibliss
Robert G.
Associate
Posts: 292
Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2004 7:48 pm

Post by Robert G. » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Bodhi, lovely to see you again <IMG SRC="/forum/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif"> I noticed that David Kudler said towards the beginning of the thread that there was "no [MA] thesis, as far as we know" but that you have the title of one ... can you clarify?

Thanks - Robert
User avatar
bodhibliss
Working Associate
Posts: 1659
Joined: Tue Oct 07, 2003 5:00 am

Post by bodhibliss » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Hi Robert

I hadn't noticed David's comment about no master's thesis, but it's an easy enough error to make, conflating the thesis with the nonexistent doctoral dissertation

(and frankly, no matter how well written and researched, a master's thesis just doesn't carry the same gravitas as a Ph.D. dissertation and generally wouldn't be that memorable).

Certainly Joe never felt his thesis significant enough to publish, though he continued to actively expand on many of the themes first broached therein the remainder of his life.

The Larsens detail Joe's work for his M.A. in their Campbell bio, A Fire in the Mind, p.75-78:
His Arthurian studies, which would culminate in his M.A. thesis, "A Dolorous Stroke," were carried out under the expert tutelage of Arthurian scholar Roger S. Loomis. Loomis was the author of a number of books and scholarly articles on the roots of this tradition. He was also an acknowledged authority in the reading of medieval iconography - tapestries, woodcuts, carvings - that deciphered Arthurian subjects, such as Tristan and Isolde sharing that fateful cup, the crossing of the sword-bridge by Lancelot, or that mysterious anatomical composite, King Pellinore's Questing Beast ...

The subject of Campbell's M.A. thesis was one of those fascinating themes which echo through the entire sweep of Arthurian tales, from the battles of Lancelot and the prophecies of Merlin to the mysterious symbolism of the Grail ...

Campbell summarizes: "A king [Pellean] is struck through the thighs by a marvelous spear wielded by a young man [Balin] and straightway his kingdom is stricken with death and barren waste." The problem of his study will be to discover the identity of this king "whose vitality and good health so obviously supported the prosperity of his kingdom," as well as the identity of the young man, and "what the origin and nature could have been, of the marvelous lance with which the dolorous stroke was dealt the king."

"To do this ... we shall have to turn for a glance at gods and magic."

And to gods and magic he turns, for ninety-five pages of probing analyses and vivid, often humorous storytelling. Celtic fertility motifs and Mediterranean mystery-cult influences are compared and scrutinized with that dazzling intellectual agility that lets one know right away this is Joseph Campbell - a very young and not yet refined one, but nevertheless unmistakeable in style. It is, however, a Campb ell who had only recently dipped into Freud ... and who would not read Jung for several more years. Psychological references or applications of mythic patterns to personal inidviduation play no part in his youthful scholarship. His analysis of the Balin story proceeds in accordance with academic tradition, altogether a matter of sources and influences. The interior nature of the hero quest has yet to be intutited ...

By the end of the piece the mystery has its revealed roots in the Goddess realm, the womb of the world, cycling with the seasons - the Castle Merveil filled with women, the repeated appearances of groups of weeping women, black giants and dwarves standing watch over herds of wild beasts, recurrent woodland fountains, and the images of womb and tomb, give evidence of this. Campbell had bitten into the juiciest piece of medieval mythic stew, containing fraqments of the Dionysian mystery traditions, shamanic lore, the Goddess religion, Celtic magic, and Christian mysteries. It was contact with materials like this that convinced him he could never stay within the bounds of academia ...
It doesn't sound like Campbell breaks any new ground here. Though likely well written, the only interest i'd have in reading his thesis would be to chart the evolution of Campell's thought - getting a sense of the foundation of his thought, noting which themes continue and which are dropped in Joe's later studies.

I'm not sure who has a copy of this thesis - probably because i'm feeling lazy and not inclined to jump through the hoops to track it down - but if anyone were so inclined, the Joseph Campbell/Marijas Gimbutas archives at the Pacifica Graduate Institute might be the place to start ...

namaste
bodhibliss

_________________

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Bodhi_Bliss on 2005-11-27 12:45 ]</font>
Robert G.
Associate
Posts: 292
Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2004 7:48 pm

Post by Robert G. » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Thanks Bodhi, I always forget that there is a biography to check for information like this, sorry to have made you do my research for me <IMG SRC="/forum/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif">
Though likely well written, the only interest i'd have in reading his thesis would be to chart the evolution of Campell's thought - getting a sense of the foundation of his thought, noting which themes continue and which are dropped in Joe's later studies.
Yes indeedy, this would be very interesting, right now some of Ritske's posts have sent me on a quest to look at Frazer's three editions of The Golden Bough to try and get a sense of how his thought changed over those 25 years. Facing this mountain of material (most of which is just thrown at you with minimal structure and almost no analysis), the thought of reading through Campbell's work seems like paradise ...
Evinnra
Associate
Posts: 2102
Joined: Tue Feb 24, 2004 4:12 pm
Location: Melbourne

Post by Evinnra » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

In Italy, high-school students are all expected to address their teacher as 'Professor', which of course does not mean that all high-school teachers have earned a PHD in their respective fields. We can be relatively sure that this custom never intended to undermine the status of academics who earned their PHD and I could not help admiring the attitude displayed this way by students. After all, the word 'professor' alludes to a meaning that expresses the respected postion of a person who has 'professed' his/her truth/knowledge and shared it with those who cared to understand. Learning is - as we all know - a two way street, a 'guru' can not teach a pupil who does not respect him/her, nor can a professor profess his/her gems of wisdom to those who care not to listen or follow. In this context, I have always called Mr Joseph Campbell Professor - not realy caring wheather he had ever completed his PHD thesis - for what he did publish included some of the most valued 'gems of wisdom' that I have ever come across in my life. <IMG SRC="/forum/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif">

Evinnra

_________________


<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Evinnra on 2005-12-20 08:00 ]</font>
Locked