2021 Student Research Conference:
34th Annual Student Research Conference

“Long Forgotten Stories”: Over the Garden Wall as Spiritual Experience and the Hero's Journey


Kimberly R. Ramos
Dr. Dereck Daschke, Faculty Mentor

Over the Garden Wall (OTGW) is an animated series primarily marketed to children and tweens. Yet, it draws a much wider audience and raving reviews—in 2015, OTGW won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program, prevailing over the more “adult” nominees. The show’s premise is simple enough: two brothers get lost in the woods and seek a way back home, encountering supernatural creatures and foes along the way. But what in particular makes OTGW so appealing to such a wide audience? I propose that watching OTGW is akin to having a spiritual experience, especially for millenials looking for new kinds of numinous symbols with which to engage. From the story structure and content to the animation and art style, from the soundtrack to the characters, OTGW is steeped in spiritual symbolism, particularly in its similarity to Jungian archetypes and the Hero’s Journey.

Keywords: Over the Garden Wall, Spirituality, Carl Jung, Hero's Journey, Individuation, Archetypes, Numinous Symbols, Millennials

Topic(s):Philosophy & Religion

Presentation Type: Face-to-Face Oral Presentation

Session: 101-1
Location: SUB GEO
Time: 8:30

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