The Man of the Wood

In May, the Centre for Myth Studies celebrated its tenth anniversary with a day of lectures, readings, and discussions (details here). The event included Dr Saul Andreetti reading from his short story, The Man of the Wood.

Saul is an Essex alumnus, poet, translator, and long-standing friend of the Centre. He was present at the start of the Myth Reading Group in 2010, and is currently co-organising a conference at the University of Bologna with the title Myth and Dream / The Dreaming of Myth – Sogno e mito / sognare il mito (conference dates 23-24 May 2019, deadline for proposals 1 February 2019).

The Man of the Wood is an enchanted tale which weaves together a number of mythical motifs, such as the quest, the trickster, cyclical time, simultaneity, metamorphosis, katabasis, and namelessness, to create an integrated modern story of quiet, enigmatic potency. We are delighted that Saul has allowed us to share his tale with our readers:

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Windigos, Wingigog and Windikouk

Myth Reading Group
Wednesday 31 October 2018
5.00 – 6.00 pm
Room NTC.2.05

This week Léna Remy-Kovach (University of Freiburg) will join us by Skype to lead a session on Windigos, Wingigog and Windikouk.

The Wendigo of the Great Lakes, by Norval Morrisseau

Norval Morrisseau (1931-2007), Wendigo of the Great Lakes

 

Léna Remy-Kovach, Windigos, Wingigog and Windikouk

The Windigo is a cannibalistic creature who haunts forests of the Atlantic Coast and the Great Lakes region. In Algonquian stories, it represents greed, anger, and most of all, insatiable hunger. Its loneliness and gluttony make it prey on humans for food, and each feeding makes it crave more victims. In recent Indigenous fiction, this traditional figure of the monstrous Other has evolved into an allegory of colonial violence. From a Winter Spirit who wanders the woods at night looking for victims to Catholic priests abusing Indigenous children in Residential Schools. In this session we will discuss the various forms, old and new, taken by this ancestral shapeshifter.

Text: Louise Erdrich, “Windigo”, Jacklight (New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1984).

Léna Remy-Kovach is a doctoral student at the University of Freiburg, Germany. Her current research projects include the commodification of Indigenous monsters in Euro-American horror TV series, the use of classic European monsters in Indigenous literature about colonialism, and the imagery of hunger and cannibalism in recent Young Adult fiction by Indigenous writers. Her Ph.D. thesis focuses on the notions of healing and (re)conciliation in contemporary Gothic Indigenous literature from Turtle Island (Canada and the United States.). www.lenaremykovach.com

 

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Conferences in Rome and Paros

Two forthcoming conferences with an element of myth have been brought to our attention:

  • Symposium on the Greeks (28-30 June 2019 on the Cycladic island of Paros; deadline for proposals 31 October 2018)
  • Keats and Mythology (22-23 February 2019 at the British School at Rome; deadline for abstracts 1 November 2018)

And don’t forget that submissions are still open for two previously advertised conferences:

It won’t be impossible to attend them all!

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An Assyrian Lamassu in London

The Myth Reading Group returns.

Wednesday 17 October 2018
5.00 – 6.30 pm
Room NTC.2.05

Lamassus from the North-West Palace (Room B, the Throne Room) of Ashurnasirpal II at Nimrud, in modern-day Nineveh Governorate, Iraq. An eagle-headed Apkallus from the Ninruta Temple at Nimrud appears at the left and, above it, another human-headed Apkallu from the North-West Palace was placed. 9th century BC. The British Museum, London.

Lamassus from the North-West Palace of Ashurnasirpal II at Nimrud. 9th century BC. Now in the British Museum. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Our founding director, Leon Burnett, opens the new year of myth-exploration. The topic for this term is Animals and Mythical Creatures.

In the build up to the Great Exhibition (1851), one of the landmark events of Queen Victoria’s reign, a massive mythological creature from Assyria, part bull and part human, was imported into London setting up an improbable encounter between a fallen empire and a thriving one. Dante Gabriel Rossetti – poet, painter, translator – was on hand to capture the moment and proffer an insight, in his poem ‘The Burden of Nineveh’, into this meeting of myth and materialism. In the opening session of the Myth Reading Group, we shall consider the context, then and now, of a lamassu in London.

Text: Dante Gabriel Rossetti, ‘The Burden of Nineveh’ (1870)

Secondary material:

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Reading Group: Call for Proposals, Autumn 2018

Myth Reading Group

Call for Proposals: Animals and Mythical Creatures

Domenico Zampieri, “Virgin and Unicorn”, c. 1604–05, fresco in Palazzo Farnese, Rome (public domain)

We are very pleased to announce that the theme for the Autumn Term is Animals and Mythical Creatures.

Taking our inspiration from “the zoo of mythologies, the zoo whose denizens are not lions but sphinxes and griffons and centaurs,” as Jorge Luis Borges described it in The Book of Imaginary Beings (p. 13), our Myth Reading Group will be exploring the presence of animals and creatures in myths.

Animals and imaginary creatures populate every civilization and culture in their written, visual or acoustic expression. Animals and beasts may carry religious or symbolic significance, such as the cat and the scarab beetle in Egyptian mythology, or may complete a heroic quest, such as the lion in The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis. Mythical creatures of ancient times, such as the phoenix and the hippogriff, reappear in contemporary literature (see for example J. K. Rowling’s books) and film. This exploration of animals and creatures may also extend to other disciplines: the study of the trickster archetype by P. Radin and C. G. Jung is only one example of how animal tales inform our understanding of myth.

We invite proposals from anyone who is interested in any aspect of mythological animals and creatures and address the theme from a mythological perspective across cultures, periods, and media.

Please contact us with your suggestions for works or topics to read and discuss in the Autumn term (mythic@essex.ac.uk). We are currently accepting proposals for video conferencing (by Skype) for those who cannot travel to Colchester.

The Myth Reading Group is open to anyone with an interest in myth. We meet on alternate Wednesdays in term time, between 5.00 and 6.30 p.m. (North Teaching Centre: Room NTC.2.05) at the University of Essex Colchester Campus. Our sessions include a short presentation of up to 30 minutes, followed by discussion or a reading session. Our first session will take place on 17 October.

Reference: Jorge Luis Borges, The Book of Imaginary Beings, trans. Norman Thomas di Giovanni, London: Vintage, 1969.

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“Our Mythical Childhood” report

Before the new academic year begins, we are pleased to share a report on one of last year’s meetings. Katerina Volioti visited the Myth Reading Group in December 2017 to lead a discussion of The visual language of (Hesiod’s) creation in children’s books. Dr Volioti’s report on her visit to Essex was published on the blog of the international research project “Our Mythical Childhood… The Reception of Classical Antiquity in Children’s and Young Adults’ Culture in Response to Regional and Global Challenges”. You can read the report here.

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Conference: Myth and Dream / The Dreaming of Myth (Bologna, May 2019)

Call for Papers — Myth and Dream / The Dreaming of Myth – Sogno e mito / sognare il mito

University of Bologna, May 2019

Deadline for proposals: 1 February 2019

Stencil art showing unique clan markers and dreamtime stories symbolising attempts to catch the deceased's spirit. Photo taken September 1985

Aboriginal stencil at Carnarvon Gorge
[public domain image]

This conference is organised by friend of the Centre for Myth Studies, Saul Andreetti, alongside Gino Scatasta of the University of Bologna, and supported by Leon Burnett and Essex. It promises to be a deep investigation into the fantastic properties of the conjunction of myth and dreaming. Papers are invited in English or Italian.

Click here for further details.

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