On Sappho's Website International Conference: Women Poets and Myth in the 20th and 21st Centuries

deadline for submissions: 
November 15, 2016
full name / name of organization: 
Poetics Group, Universidad Complutense de Madrid

On Sappho’s Website International Conference26th-28th April 2017Universidad Complutense, Madrid, SpainCall for Papers

Women poets have critically responded to myth, to how myths have been rendered and passed on generationally, and to how they give meaning to different domains of the human world. Myths are woven into kinship, sociality, politics, and the life cycle, and the way in which women poets have been rereading and revisiting myths in the 20th and 21stcenturies has had a profound impact on women’s agency and authoritative voices. Highly self-conscious about their relationship to literary tradition, women poets have responded to myth and found a venue for issues and characters that not only defy mythic conventions but also refashion them.

Thirty years after Alicia Suskin Ostriker’s Stealing the Language (1986) we have followed the trajectory of women poets revisionist mythmaking as a strategy to overcome the denial of authoritative expression:

As we approach our own time, women’s mythological poems demonstrate increasing self-consciousness, increasing irony and increasing awareness that the poet may not only say ‘Sappho’ or ‘Ariadne’ when the culture does not permit her to say ‘I’ but may also deviate from or explicitly challenge the meanings attributed to mythic figures and tales. She may keep the name but change the game, and here is where revisionist mythology comes in

From modernism onwards, in response to the “mythic method” and to central anthropological, psychoanalytical and spiritual renderings of myth, we have experienced that mythology is far from being a dead end for contemporary women poets. They have used myth effectively recognizing that myths are above all common property and not the private domain of an elitist group of initiates.

Today, myths can also be catalysts for new ideas and imaginative re-creations. They can signal a rebirth and a reinvigoration of culture. We welcome contributions that will illuminate us in rethinking women’s poetry and myth now: from reconsiderations of the role of the woman poet in articulating contemporary myths, to reflecting upon the paucity of current thinking and writing on all these issues. Will our current global world welcome the myth-telling woman poet?


Confirmed Keynote SpeakerProf. Alicia S. Ostriker


Possible paper topics include but are not limited to:


  • Rewriting myth in women’s poetry
  • Myth and temporality: the time of women’s poetry
  • Permanence and contingency of myths in women’s poetry
  • Women poets’ new mythologies
  • Myth and new forms of kinship in women’s poetry
  • Revising and revisiting myth
  • Re-vision (Adrienne Rich’s) and myth
  • New perspectives on myth and archetype in women’s poetry
  • Women poets and myths of sociality
  • Women poets, myth, and high and low culture
  • Mythographies: women’s poetry across the arts
  • Womens’ poetry and national mythologies
  • Geolocalities of myth in women’s poetry in a global world
  • Postcoloniality and new myths in women’s poetry
  • Non-Western mythologies in 20th & 21st century women’s poetry
  • Revisiting feminist theory on poetry and myth
  • Myth, spirituality and women’s poetry
  • Myhth and cognition
  • Rhetoric, discourse and strategies for (re)writing myth



  • Poetics Group, U. Complutense



Contributors should send 500-word proposals to the organizers by November 15, and include their name, affiliation, and a short bio. All materials should be sent to the conference e-mail:




Acceptances will be notified by  December 5


Conference Website



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