Introduction for Course Literature: Hero's Journey and Archetypes, Day 1 of 2

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SWBAT demonstrate understanding of the hero's journey and archetypes through writing and discussion.

Big Idea

Life is a struggle and requires courage.

Lesson Overview and Note to Teachers

I explore the hero's journey with my students throughout the year by exploring works from Beowulf to Macbeth. 

My classes are held in 100 minute block sessions.  The activities in this introduction for course literature take the better part of two class periods to complete.  We explore the journey of the hero through "Star Wars: The Legacy Revealed" (History Channel, 2007) and a supporting activity shared with me by Richard Borish, NBCT.

These activities provide (1) a review of archetypes in Classical literature and the hero's journey, and (2) activate students' prior learning and background knowledge as a springboard to course content.

The lesson below outlines day one of the activities. 

Introduction: The Hero's Journey

10 minutes

My classes are held in 100-minute block periods.  

I begin by explaining to students that we will explore and review content required to be successful with literature in this course by examining the hero's journey with the idea that life is a struggle and requires courage. I point out to students that they have studied the hero through literature during grades 9-11 by reading classic tales of heroes, such as The Odyssey, Julius Caesar, and Antigone and through their own reading and viewing experiences outside of school. I orient students to the hero's journey through discussion of Journey of the Hero handout (Handout: Journey of the Hero), first pointing out the stages: The Departure, The Quest, The Return and then explaining each component.

Next, students apply their knowledge of heroic tales to the hero's journey by engaging in paired discussion, outlining how their selected hero progresses through the hero's journey, and providing specific examples from a work they previously viewed or read.  Some heroes students select include Antigone, Oedipus, Iron Man, Harry Potter, and Odysseus.

I want students to build upon their prior knowledge of the hero's journey and archetypes from their own reading and viewing experiences throughout high school. We debrief with volunteers sharing their responses about heroes from literary works and films, such as The Odyssey, Antigone, "Spider-Man," and "Clash of The Titans," respectively.

"STAR WARS: The Legacy Revealed"

90 minutes

I explain to students that the hero's journey and archetypes are presented in "Star Wars: The Legacy Revealed" program (History Channel, 2007). I tell students that George Lucas utilized various archetypes and allusions to Classic literature when writing Star Wars. I distribute the study guide and explain to students that as we watch the program, they are to complete corresponding questions on the study guide (Study Guide: "Star Wars: The Legacy Revealed"). As we watch the program, students fill in answers to the questions; we stop periodically so that students can compare answers (Answer Key: "STAR WARS: The Legacy Revealed" Study Guide) and check their work. 

We will continue activities next class.

When I implement this lesson again, I will stop at salient points in the program to review the aspects of the hero's journey.