Literary Archetype and Symbol in the Information Age

The presentation below was delivered at the “Teachers Teaching Teachers” CAIS Workshop at Chase Collegiate in April, 2011. It has been edited in minor ways.

— Bill Hunter, Hamden Hall School,  PD Commission Member  

The following work-up is a start on trying to make sense of how archetypes (i.e.,  culturally received beliefs and behaviors) function underneath (we might say) great works of literature.  In the best works, such as the two I’ve selected to do overviews of, archetypes serve to deepen and shade the work, I would say, without seeming to steer the plot at all.  In other words, just as meanings travel in our own lives without calling attention to themselves—except perhaps, in hindsight, often—so do archetypes underpin and give deeper resonance to lasting works of literature.   The subject is a big one—big as culture itself, perhaps—and exploring such caves of meaning may have, literally, no end.  Yet, all the more, perhaps, are riches promised for students of literature.  Pliable, malleable, archetypes and the symbols they generate like buoys in the plot will perhaps always be in the eye of the beholder—and signals of possible wonders of meaning, lurking in the shadows.


About wordforester

Bill Hunter-- English teacher, poet, prose-writer, father, husband, native New Hampshirite, summer Mainer, CT teacher for the last 29 years-- with interests in how to develop young writers and create a new literary community beyond internet chatter and a diminishing reading culture... let me know if you have any routes to ponder, especially in regard to satisfying the twin needs of reading acuity and interpretive skill combined with innovative writing assignments that involve both student voice and text-intensive investigation...
This entry was posted in 21st Century Learning, Collaboration Among CAIS Colleagues, Teachers Sharing with Teachers 2010, Technology, Upper School. Bookmark the permalink.

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