Dissertation Title:

Dismantling Hero Mythology, Releasing Stereotypes and Embracing a New Model of Heroism


Cary Gardell

Date, Time & Place:

December 9, 2022 at 11:00 am
Classroom A-101 at the Ladera Campus


Marian Wright Edelman has famously noted “You can’t be what you can’t see,” signifying the great need of representation of strong models for children. My dissertation addresses the mythology surrounding the hero’s journey as it has affected young girls and women while discovering the re-mythologizing of the journey by women and for women. My argument has three goals. The first is to show how the traditional heroic journey is different for men and women and that the female journey has only recently been recognized by scholars that discuss it in one of two ways. Either as a struggle in fitting with the male model or creating a new model altogether. The second goal is to show the merging of feminine and masculine traits in our modern popular culture thus blurring the traditional lines of stages in a heroic journey. The third goal is to show an evolution from strictly gender-based models to a new gender non-conforming paradigm that has been taking form in both television and film. I conclude with an understanding that including women in the discussion of the heroic journey in a more concrete way can lead to the exclusion of those who are gender fluid as well as non-conforming to the traditional roles of the gender binary. It is with in depth research and great excitement that I care to show the possibilities of how “what we see” is starting to serve us all.

  • Program/Track/Year: Mythological Studies, I, 2019
  • Chair: Dr. Evans Lansing Smith
  • Reader: Dr. Jody Bower
  • External Reader: Dr. Angela Belden
  • Keywords: Hero's Journey, Women's Journey, Female Monomyth, Hero Mythology, Women In Mythology, Gender-non Conforming Mythology