Archetypal America by Jim Curtan
An examination of American Mythology & Archetype
A live lecture recording from the Minnesota Jung Association workshop held in October 2015.
The main American theme, I think, is freedom. It’s about individual freedom in opposition to or in tension with collective freedom.”
– Ken Burns, documentary film maker, “The Civil War”
Throughout American history the archetypes which populate our myths and legends and capture our imagination are the Rebel, the Revolutionary, the Liberator, the Scout, the Pioneer, the Cowboy, the Explorer, even the Outlaw: all of them perpetually moving forward in pursuit of their idea of freedom, both on behalf of the common good and at the expense of it. While many of these archetypes appear from the very beginnings of our history, the conflict between the various notions of freedom—personal and collective—solidified in the American psyche in the years leading up to and following the Civil War. They continue to impact us and our ideas of ourselves to this day.
The course lectures introduce these archetypes, light and shadow, and the distinctions between each of them.
This course references the 1939 film Stagecoach directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne. The workshop attendees watched the film along with Jim's commentary but due to copyright restrictions the film portion of the class are not available to the public.