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Superheroes and an Emergent Modern Mythology

Author Spotlight with Dr. David Odorisio and Contributing Pacifica Student and Alumni Authors of A New Gnosis: Comic Books, Comparative Mythology and Depth Psychology

May 16th, 2023

1 Live Class | Offered Live via Zoom

Program Description

Superhero phenomena exploded into 20th- and 21st-century popular culture by way of the visual medium of comic books. In an increasingly secular (yet spiritual) culture that has largely renounced “the gods” (and even religion), what does the return of the superhero through our own pop cultural mythologies say to us—or even about us? This collection of essays from leading and up-and-coming scholars in the fields of comparative mythology and depth psychology considers the return of the superhero as representative of our own unique emergent modern mythology: a wildly diverse pantheon that reflects back to us our most far-reaching hopes and (im)possible (super)human desires.

In placing the interpretive tools of comparative mythology and depth psychology alongside the comic book phenomenon, a super-powered palette emerges that unveils the hidden potential of modern readers’ own heightened imaginations. The essays in this anthology examine select comic book and superhero characters from the “Silver Age” 1960s through contemporary 21st-century adaptations and innovations, as readers are invited to discover and uncover what the (re)emergence of these perennial gods and goddesses have to say about our own secret super selves today.

Join us for this panel discussion with David Odorisio, Ph.D.,  Pacifica Graduate Institute’s Co-Chair of Mythological Studies and Editor of the newly released book, A New Gnosis: Comic Books, Comparative Mythology and Depth Psychology. Dr. Odorisio will be joined by contributing Pacifica student and alumni authors and scholars of applied mythology: Amy Slonaker, Jennifer Maile Kaku and John Bucher.

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Program Details


May 16th, 2023
Noon – 1:30 PM PDT


  • Free

Program link will be sent out prior to the event. For those unable to attend live, the presentation will be recorded and the link shared after the event.

About the Teachers

Dave OdorisioDavid M. Odorisio, PhD, is Associate Core Faculty and Co-Chair of the Mythological Studies program at Pacifica Graduate Institute, Santa Barbara, CA. David received his PhD in East-West Psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies and teaches in the areas of theory and method in the study of religion, psychology and religion, and Christian mysticism. He is editor of Merton and Hinduism: The Yoga of the Heart (Fons Vitae, 2021), and co-editor of Depth Psychology and Mysticism (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), and has published in numerous journals in the fields of Jungian and transpersonal psychology.

Jennifer Maile Kaku is currently a doctoral candidate in Mythological Studies at Pacifica Graduate Institute. She received a BA in English from Stanford University and an MA in Mythological Studies from Pacifica Graduate Institute. She holds a French postgraduate degree (DEA, Diplôme d’études approfondies) in Histoire et Sémiologie du Texte et de l’Image from the Université de Paris-Diderot. In addition to Hawaiian and Indigenous myth, her research interests include the mythological underpinnings of everyday life, the power(s) of story and narrative, and a focus on issues of gender, ethnocentricity, alterity. Several of her essays have been published in the Mythological Studies Journal. She is also a dancer and a teacher of hula who divides her time between Paris, France and Honolulu, Hawai’i.

John Bucher is a mythologist, storyteller, and writer based out of Hollywood, California. He has served as Creative Director for the Joseph Campbell Foundation and is currently the Interim Executive Director for the organization. John is an author, podcaster, and speaker. He has worked with government and cultural leaders around the world as well as organizations such as  HBO, DC Comics, The History Channel, A24 Films, Atlas Obscura, and The John Maxwell Leadership Foundation. He has served as a producer, consultant, and writer for numerous film, television, and Virtual Reality projects. He is the author of six books including the best-selling Storytelling for Virtual Reality, named by BookAuthority as one of the best storytelling books of all time. He holds a PhD in Mythology and Depth Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute and has spoken on 6 continents about using the power of story and myth to reframe how individuals, organizations, cultures, and nations believe and behave.

Amy Slonaker is a doctoral candidate in the Mythological Studies program at Pacifica Graduate Institute. After receiving her undergraduate degree in Religious Studies from UC Santa Barbara, she attended Seattle University School of Law and subsequently practiced as an attorney for over 20 years in the areas of criminal defense and securities litigation. Since 2012, she has worked with the Morbid Anatomy Library of Brooklyn, New York, by contributing programming and serving on its board. 

General Information


Hosted Online


Cancellations 14 days or more prior to the program start date receive a 100% refund of program registrations. After 14 days, up to 7 days prior to the program start date, a 50% refund is available. For cancellations made less than 7 days of program start date, no refund is available.

For additional information, including travel, cancellation policy, and disability services please visit our general information section.


Registration Details

May 16th, 2023

  • Number of Classes: 1 Class
  • Class Length: 90 min.
  • Class Time: Noon – 1:30 PM PDT
  • Total Duration: 1.5 Hours