The Archetype of Success: A Reflection on Using Writing Intensives to Boost Morale in Humanities Educators

Karin Yearwood, Morgan State University
14 July 2023

I received the email in late May of 2023. It was an end-of-semester farewell from the President of Academic Affairs that included announcements and some of the regular finishing touches that faculty need to make before figuratively signing off for the academic year. While skimming the message, I took my regular look-for-opportunities approach. Are there new teams, committees, or groups centered on topics that favor my educational forte? What conferences, seminars or workshops are coming up that are free of charge or will be covered by departmental budgets?

As an adjunct English instructor, engaging in these seemingly small-scale options make a world of difference as it relates to discerning the value I have as an instructor in higher ed and my value as a human being. So, when I saw the acronym in bold, and its meaning right after it, I knew I had to apply right away. The Summer Writing Institute (SWI) was held in person at the university I teach first-year composition. It is a one-week opportunity for faculty members of all disciplines to immerse themselves in a supportive and creative atmosphere while they work on manuscripts, proposals, articles, chapters of a book, and other scholarly works. There is also expert guidance from accomplished writers and editors, and of course, the rare experience of faculty of all levels creating in one space. It is as if the cosmos said, Yes, you belong here and yes, you deserve the intellectual nourishment you ordinarily offer your students.

Because I never took part in any kind of writing intensive, there was a frisson of anticipation. Finally, I could actively engage in scholarly conversations while developing my own work of choice. We had free range. I did not exactly know what to create, but I did know I wanted to write a polished piece of content that could be published in a well-known publication. After mentally sifting through topics that I have a great interest in, I decided to write about the archetypal influences on society according to the Western tradition of astrology. In spring of 2022, I received an Andrew W. Mellon grant to develop curriculum for courses in the humanities. My themed unit is titled At the Heart of War, and is centered on the rhetoric of war. Using the archetypes in Western astrology, students study how war is experienced in all facets of life. Concepts such as conflict, aggression, partnerships, harmony, and beauty are studied from students experiences. We also discuss symbolism as a means of making these archetypes tangible. The work is not meant to explore the scientific view of war, but rather an archetypal psychologythe myths, philosophy, and theology of wars deepest mind.

So, I had my topic. But what would I share about it? I think the substantive part of scholarship in the humanities is the marrying of educators passions and their respective andragogical practices. Specifically for adjuncts, scholarship serves as a gateway to additional opportunities within institutions and/or, in my humble opinion, the impetus for maintaining the gusto for teaching full course loads with scant compensation. Adjuncts often receive little to no support or feedback on their teaching, so a space created specifically for progress, improvement, and insight is the ultimate haven to get critiques and support in live time.

Since I was going to use the week to create a complimentary document for my curriculum, I first decided to draft a literature review. Richard Tarnas Cosmos and Psyche and James Hillmans A Terrible Love of War were my two selected works. The review would focus on each authors approach to exploring the human psyches connection to the ethereal. But after carefully writing the abstract, I realized a lit review would be another bland piece of content in the aggregation of humanities discourse. Instead, a journal article that takes each cognoscentis scholarly work and applies it to a topic that is alluring but also pertinent would make a more rewarding feat.

I began to draft my article, Archetypes and Cultural Views: The Path to a Better Baltimore. Scholarly production for teacher-scholars involves a process where they take discourse from where they stand and build steps to a desired outcome whether that be book publishing, articles in publications, additional materials to course instruction, or multi-media products. As a Baltimore native, and contemporary historophile, I find it suitable for me to imagine, research and write on an aspect of the citys history. By doing this, I build a bridge between my work as a teacher and practicing astrologer.

Tarnas work examines the phenomenon of certain planetary aspects and its effects on societal shifts. Moreover, he presents the archetypes of Western astrology in a synchronistic style, identifying patterns of the cosmos. In my work, I answer specifically, how did the planetary alignments during 1960 to 1972 attribute to the decline of Baltimore City? My work focuses on 1960 to 1972 for two reasons: 1) this period is often associated with breakthroughs, rebellions, war, and social upheaval; and 2) Tarnas lays out a great deal of research on major events during this time in human history.

Astrology is a massively complex school of thought and often dismissed by many scholars. But when presented in an interdisciplinary fashion, it is more reachable. In my article, I am working to cover philosophy, history, and sociology as it relates to urban decline. I can use this exposition to make predictions for what the future holds for Baltimore City. Although this is a steppingstone for my personal scholarship, it doesnt scratch the surface of what insight cosmology may offer human behavior. There is mythology, anthropology, theology, psychology, ecology, and medicine that can bring forth new data and new perspectives that have challenged long-established assumptions and strategies of the modern mind (Tarnas 2007). This is what can make scholarship unique and invigorating. The simple decision to act on an opportunity that can open doors and create new avenues to thrive as teacher-scholars.

Higher education in the United States is in a transitional era. Community colleges are not exempt. The definition of scholarly production transforms when we engage our imagination with copious study. When we acknowledge the fluidity in world views, that old cultural vision no longer holds, but the new has not yet constellated (Tarnas 2007). When scholars ideas are palpable and given space for fruition, even in the midst of disoriented creativity. As it relates to traditional forms of scholarship, this is perhaps the clearest, most foundational archetype of success.