Centre for Myth Studies
Myth Reading Group
Call for Proposals: Trees & Forests
We are very pleased to announce that the theme for the Spring & Summer terms is Trees & 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.
In collaboration with #FolkloreThursday & in line with our theme of #TreesAndForests, we shared stories & images of trees & forests in myths & folklore. Enjoy a selection of tweets shared on 22 & 29 (#garden) February 2018, curated by @MythStudies: Twitter Moments on #TreesAndForests. Many thanks to @FolkloreThurs managers Dee Dee Chainey & Willow Winsham, & editor Amelia Starling).
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 (until Sunday 22 April 2018), 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 [see our selection on Yggdrasil (Part I & Part II), understory (Part I & Part II), Thom Gunn’s poem ‘Philemon & Baucis‘, Wurzelweg [tree-root way], wodwo, sakura, ‘old-growth‘ of a forest, and nemophilist).
See also a one-day Conference at Oxford Brookes University on trees in art, literature, education, & wellbeing: Trees and Wellbeing: Past, Present, and Future (Friday 18 May 2018), and University of Kent’s exhibition on the ash tree, running until 14 April 2018, The Ash Archive, and information about The Ash Project
Please contact us with your suggestions for works or topics to read and discuss in the Spring & Summer terms (firstname.lastname@example.org) We are currently accepting proposals in two rounds (by 20 January: Spring; by 31 March: Summer). We are very pleased to announce that video conferencing is available for those who cannot travel to Colchester.
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).