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The hero's journey: tracing the history of the myth to the celebrity

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posted on 08.06.2021, 11:46 by Lisa Goldberg
The terms "hero," "heroism," and, more recently, "heroine," are broad, wide ranging, and contested terms prominent within academia yet there remains a general consensus that heroes are, historically, an essential component to society. This paper will identify that there are diverse Western cultural conceptions surrounding the hero. It is therefore important to trace the meaning behind the concept and draw conclusions as to whether or not the hero narrative has developed or shifted over time. Through an intensive review of the literature on the "hero," this research paper critically identifies the historical constructions, empirical observations, and theoretical analyses in order to explore and understand how the hero narrative has changed or retained timeless qualities of meaning or myth. As the hero developed from the Classical times to the present, through the periods of oral tradition to electronic media, those who are identified as a "hero" became more and more far-reaching. This paper constructs several empirical tables that identify similarities and differences concerning how Western society's classification of heroes has developed. By taking into account the different types of heroic figures that have existed across time, including Greek gods, soldiers, community workers, and celebrities, this paper establishes whether or not the conception of the "hero" changes depending on war, gender, race, popular culture, historical time period, and changes in communication technology.





Communication and Culture

Granting Institution

Ryerson University