Campbell versus Moyers, A Digital Collective Mythology

My presentation (2022) for the course Streaming Media. Contemporary Society and Cultural Memory. A course by prof. R. Gambarato and J. Heumann (Jönköping University School of Education and Communication).

The following is exploring the PBS program of 1988, « The Power of Myth », here called the ‘Series’, a landmark in television staging Bill Moyers – BM – interviewing Joseph Campbell – JC – wanting for the audience « to be awaken with a sense of wonder ». BM has numerous titles as a journalist, political commentator, and former Press Secretary of the White House (under the Johnson administration). He had several shows on PBS with great audience success. JC is an American scholar, anthropologist and mythologist with more than 40 published books, some translated in several languages. The Series was broadcasted in the USA after JC passed away in 1987. The Series encompasses 6 episodes of 1 hour filmed in 1985 and 1986, broadcasted over the course of 6 days in a row, plus a book of the same title, called the « companion book » (). « The two men discuss myths as metaphors for human experience and the path to transcendence » as the website of the same title proposes. Content can be found on YouTube and websites in 2022. My choice of topic is motivated by my former study of JC in the fields of cinema, creative writing and coaching, before to enter academia again later in my career. I worked in film, television, and multimedia, before to take some distance about JC’s « Hero’s Journey » referring to his mono-myth theory . My current investigation started with a Tweet about the Series from the Open Culture Twitter account (440K followers), a web platform dedicated to culture, a curation tool in several languages . This is contextualising on the idea that cultural digitalised content is our cultural memory, sometimes canon as in the Assmann’s model (1999 and after), which can develop into a transmedial experience. I am illustrating the heritage of JC in regard to its potential transmediality. Is the Series becoming transmedial for the viewers? If so, what kind of transmedia modality is it? We will use a simplified definition of transmedia, several theoretical frameworks in transmedia studies (Freeman, Gambarato, al., 2019), along with a personalised research methodology, to conclude that there is a transmedial aspect of the Series.

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Donwload the PDF of my presentation as a preparation for this paper: Campbell versus Moyers,  A Digital Collective Mythology (2022)

Campbell versus Moyers
Campbell versus Moyers

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