Centre for Myth Studies
Myth Reading Group
Call for Proposals: Trees & Forests
Yggdrasil, the Tree of Life in Norse Mythology, and the Nine Worlds, Pinterest
The Myth Reading Group continues in the spring term with the theme of “Trees and Forests”.
Trees hold a prominent place in cultures and religions since they are associated with fertility and rebirth, immortality, enlightenment and eternal youth. In many cosmologies, a tree unites the different realms of the cosmos and functions as the world axis. In Norse cosmology Yggdrasil’s roots and branches are spread across nine worlds. For Mircea Eliade “the tree came to express everything that religious man regards as pre-eminently real and sacred” (Eliade, 1957, 149). Forests contain and extend the symbolism of trees and as such they are often depicted as realms of enchantment, transformation, and encounters with other worlds and beings.
We invite proposals from anyone who is interested in any aspect of trees and forests and address the theme from a mythological perspective across cultures, periods, and media.
For an inspiring discussion of the significance of the forest in Russian fairytales, please see Sally Pomme Clayton’s blog post about her recent performance at our centre: “Babayaga’s Daughter”.
For more on trees, woods, & forests, see the V&A Exhibition Into the Woods: Trees in Photography (opening on 18 November), Robert MacFarlane’s article on The Secret of the Wood Wide Web in The New Yorker, his research on landscape & nature, and the many Twitter threads from his word of the day (we have selected two for you, on Yggdrasil and understory).
Please contact us with your suggestions for works or topics to read and discuss in the Spring term (email@example.com, proposals by end of December 2017). We are very pleased to announce that video conferencing is also available.
The Myth Reading Group is open to anyone with an interest in myth. We meet every Thursday in term time, between 12:00 and 1:30 p.m. (Room 3.411) at the University of Essex Colchester Campus. Our sessions include a short presentation, up to 30 minutes, followed by discussion.
References: Mircea Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion, trans. Willard R. Trask (London: Harvest, 1957).