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.
We are delighted to announce that the Folklore Thursday on 22 February will be devoted to the theme of Trees & Forests (many thanks to managers Dee Dee Chainey & Willow Winsham, & editor Amelia Starling). Start collecting images and information to share on @FolkloreThurs & @MythStudies!
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 four for you, on Yggdrasil, understory, Thom Gunn’s poem ‘Philemon & Baucis‘, and Wurzelweg [tree-root way], ).
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).