Rereading Myths at the Beginnings of the 21st Century
Date: the 9th of June, 2016
Venue: The Faculty of Social, Humanistic and Natural Sciences, Department of "Letters and Foreign Languages"; Str. Calea Călăraşilor, nr. 169, Bucharest, Romania
Mythmaking has been in the human mind since the beginnings of history, as Karen Armstrong explains us (A Short History of Myth). Imagination has helped people produce religion and mythology in order to define the unknown, to imitate gods and experience divinity themselves.
Myth has been defined and discussed from various perspectives by great names in the Euro-American space: Herbert Spencer, Max Muller, Kenneth Burke, Roland Barthes, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Carl Jung etc.
It means "nothing more than a misrepresentation" of names (Spencer), and an "illusion", a "self-deception" or a "mental defect" (Muller) in the 19th century.
It is politics, a "basic psychological tool for working together", "with an ideological function", it is Marxism, "the people", nationality, class, lodge and guild starting with World War II (Burke). It is a "stolen language", a "depoliticized speech", meant to distort and alienate the meaning, naturalize history, purify things, make them innocent – it is the message of the right, of the oppressor and not of the oppressed (Barthes). It offers human beings the illusion that they can understand the universe, and can only be explained through the present state of scientific thought. It is mythology, myths compared and combined over and over again, it needs to be looked at as an orchestral score, the whole page seen at once. It is, today, replaced by history, to ensure that "as closely as possible – complete closeness is obviously impossible – the future will remain faithful to the present and to the past (Lévi-Strauss). It is balance, it is wholeness, it is instinct and it is image, a culturally elaborated image/representation of the contents of the deepest recesses of the human psyche – the word of the archetypes – the "helpful divine being", "the passage of the ford"/ "cross the Rubicon". It is universal and very slow in changing (Jung).
Post-colonialist writing, feminism and the 21st century have ushered in an era of deconstruction/reconstruction/rewriting and rereading.
Now, it is the turn of Indian Sunetra Gupta to reverse Western mythology – Adam and Eve, Prometheus, Pandora, the quest for the Holy Grail, the male hero and Western rationality. This time the woman is the demiurge, the West cannot control the mystery of life, and the male hero is totally un-heroic.
It is the turn of British feminist Marina Warner to rewrite Catholicism, female iconography, folklore, gender and ethnic/racial themes as prejudiced ideas and generalizations.
It is the turn of Chinese-American Maxine Hong Kingston to reconstruct Chinese American history by subverting famous mainstream American myths: the melting pot, the Gold Mountain, the myth of freedom and democracy.
Last, but not least, series of TV documentaries analyze the Bible so as to check the validity of all stories that gave birth to Christianity.
The present conference tries to answer the following questions: do we still need myths? Is re-reading a negative/positive/useful type of discourse/strategy?
Papers are invited on: Literary and Cultural Studies, Linguistics, and Teaching.
Papers will be presented in English or Romanian, addressing topics including (but by no means limited to) the following:
-history and/as myth
-religion and/as myth
-literature – the literary canon/great writers
-media and myth
-post-colonialism, feminism, deconstructionism, ethnic/minority literature
-myth and poetry
Presentations will be allocated 20 minutes each. Prospective participants are invited to submit abstracts in Word format, 150-200 words, plus a list of 5 keywords. Proposals should include title of paper, name and institutional affiliation, a short bio (no more than 100 words), and e-mail address. You also need to specify whether you need technical equipment, and name it.
Foreign participants will be offered the possibility to present via Skype.
Conference fee: 25 euro (or equivalent in Romanian Lei – 100 ron) – payable before (online banking), or 35 euro (or equivalent in Romanian Lei – 150 ron), payable upon arrival – covering the conference map and refreshments during the conference (but not lunch and/or dinner.
B.C.R. SECTOR 3
"taxa participare conferinta lit. si lb. straine" (please specify this! – it means the attendance fee for the Lit and Foreign Lgs conference)
Deadline for proposals: April 15, 2016
A selection of the conference papers will be published in Hypercultura, on Tracus Arte Publishing House (right now credited C by CNCS). Papers that will not be selected by our reviewers will be written on a CD, published with ISSN.
Please send proposals (and enquiries) to firstname.lastname@example.org
Looking forward to welcoming you in Bucharest,