Joseph Campbell Is the Discoverer of the Monomyth, or Hero’s Journey

Joseph Campbell may be said to have “discovered” the hero’s journey within the myths of all cultures. He described its 12 stages as what he called the Monomyth in his classic work, The Hero With a Thousand Faces. The hero’s journey was later adapted for modern-day screenwriters by Chris Vogler (see Hero Wisdom > Chris Vogler) and in story-writing software (see Hero Tools > StoryCraft Hero-Story Writing Software). See also Vogler’s description of Campbell’s work on the hero’s journey at Hero Wisdom > Chris Vogler.

“Joseph Campbell, born on March 26, 1904, in New York City, studied Native American folklore as a child and went on to become a Sarah Lawrence professor. He was a renowned presenter of unifying concepts in comparative mythology with books like The Hero With a Thousand Faces, The Power of Myth and The Masks of God. He died in Honolulu, Hawaii, on October 30, 1987, with a PBS interview series released in 1988.” (From

Though many videos have been recorded of Campbell, the most famous are from the series of Bill Moyers’s PBS interviews broadcast in 1988.

Bill Moyers and mythologist Joseph Campbell begin their groundbreaking and timeless conversation with an exploration of the classic hero cycle, including consistent and enduring hero patterns in literature, real life and even the Star Wars films. Campbell also encourages the audience to view parts of their own lives as heroic journeys. In a clip from the first episode, Campbell encourages the audience to discover what excites them, and make that the basis for their personal journeys.

See clip from Episode One here (from Bill Moyers’ website)

YouTube version of the video:

Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth with Bill Moyers | Star Wars | PBS

For Vimeo version, click here:

See also Steven Bratter’s YouTube channel playlist from the Joseph Campbell Foundation, which contains more than 50 Campbell videos:
See also: Hero Wisdom > Hero’s Journey; John Jarvis; Screenwriting; and Hero Tools > StoryCraft Hero-Story Writing Software. In addition, check out other Hero Wisdom (such as that of script-writing coach Skip Press).

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