CFP: Who's Afraid of Medusa? (April 1st, 2013)

full name / name of organization: 
MuseMedusa: Journal of Literature and Modern Art

(Original CFP can be found at this address:

MuseMedusa, a journal of literature and modern art, is calling for contributions to its first issue that will deal with the Medusa, one of the most profound mythical figures in art and literature.

Evil-doing and monstor-like figures, the Gorgons incarnate in the Western cultural imaginary the deadly power associated with woman's petrifying gaze. In beheading Medusa, the most dangerous Gorgon and the only mortal of the three sisters, the hero Perseus was able to appropriate the power of the feminine by offering her head to Athena who placed it on her shield to preserve Medusa's extraordinary power. This feminine strength always under siege has never ceased being reborn despite ongoing attempts to annihilate it. Not unlike the hydra of Lerna killed by Heracles, Medusa has the capacity symbolically to come back again and again from her deaths. In the ancient texts and throughout cultural history, Medusa has appeared in many guises and continues to mock each and every Perseus.

The relationship that literature and art can sustain with Medusa seems to rest on a certain ambivalence. This threatening femininity remains nonethless an object of fascination. Medusa's decapitated head, a figure of the feminine sex organ, inspires Freud to interpret the myth(olog)ical character as a symbol of castration. In French, the jellyfish found on beaches throughout the world is called a medusa; thus Proust writes in Sodom and Gomorrah: "When I followed my instinct, the jellyfish [méduse] in Balbec disgusted me; but if, like Michelet, I knew how to look at it from the viewpoint of natural history and aesthetics, I saw a delicious bluish candelabra." Even if, prior to the end of the 19th century, the Medusa myth is only occasionally taken up (for example, in Lully's opera, Perseus, or Géricault's romantic painting, The Raft of the Medusa), there is an abundance of examples attesting to the double movement of fascination and repulsion that have stimulated creators from the turn of the century up to today. These include, in visual arts: Klimt's Evil  Forces and The Three Gorgons, Dalí's Perseus, Madame Yveonde's Mrs. Edward Mayer as Medusa, Keith Haring'sMedusa; in literature: Sylvia Plath's poem Medusa, Hélène Cixous' The Laugh of Medusa, Sylvie Germain's Medusa Child, Pascal Quignard's Le nom sur le bout de la langue suivi de Petit traité sur Méduse and Laurence Prud'homme's La danse de la Méduse; in cinema: the last movie of Tim Burton, Dark Shadows; in performance arts: Orlan's Étude documentaire: la tête de Méduse or the choreography of Guylaine Savoie called Méduse ou la tête de Gorgô.

In confronting fright, panic, even paralysis, the question must be asked: how might one look upon Medusa? Is it possible to gaze into her eyes? Other questions emerge: from the outset of modernity down to today, what are the representations that Medusa has given birth to from the outset of modernity down to today; how does it feed into literary and artistic works? What is its signifying power at different moments of cultural history? To what ends do creators make use of the Medusa myth, and by what means do they distort it? How might one broach the feminine perceived as terrifying, repulsive, simultaneously diabolical and sublime? This inaugural issue of the journal invites potential contributors to explore these avenues of reflection, among others.

Deadline for sending contributions (30 000 to 40 000 characters, including spaces) is  April 1st, 2013 to Catherine Mavrikakis ( and Andrea Oberhuber (