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Department of the Study of Religions

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Keynote Speaker:

Professor Ivan Strenski,
College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, University of California, Riverside, USA
'Malinowski among the Kobiety'

The study of gender now has an established status within academic discourse but, surprisingly, to date there has been little work exploring the critical intersections of gender theory and the study of myth and mythmaking. The aim of the conference, to be held at SOAS in December 2004, is to encourage a debate that takes seriously myths’ engendering and the role of gender both in the process of mythmaking, and in the production of theories about myth within the academic context. In addition, we aim to set out a research programme that addresses the marginal status of gender theory in the study of myth and mythmaking. This conference will bring together scholars of myth from a variety of disciplines in order to explore, critically and co-operatively, the generative space for research and reflection that is opened when readings of myths interrogate the resistance to and inscriptions and inversions of gender identities and roles in mythic narrative and theories about myth. Provocative new questions will thus be raised through careful examination of the underlying continuities and discontinuities, similarities and differences in myths and mythmaking when viewed through a gender-critical lens.

The conference will be the third in a planned series of four (UCL, 26-27 March 2003: Creation Stories; Leiden, 11-12 December 2003: Myth Theory and the Disciplines; SOAS, 14-15 December 2004; final congress, Leiden, March 2005) that seeks to re-examine the large amount of data and interpretations concerned with myths. In the past decades, scholarly discussion in the field of myths and mythologies largely raised questions regarding function, structure and meaning. Building on these earlier debates, and reconsidering previous studies on historical influences and diffusions, the series aims at developing new questions—and exploring the possibilities of new answers—regarding the theory and practice of myth interpretation in different disciplines and fields (anthropology, literary studies, history of religions, sociolinguistics, and cultural studies). The series will proceed by way of an intercultural, interdisciplinary, and comparative approach towards different regional areas and in relation to their significance in present religions.

Key themes of the Gender, Myth, and Mythmaking Conference
  • Myth and Method: Gender, Ideology and Theory
  • Narrative, Memory and Gender Identity
  • Gender, Myth and Religion
  • Feminism and Myth: Reconsiderations/Refutations
The remit of the series is:
  • Intercultural perspectives on regional mythologies and their mutual spheres of influence;
  • The religious contexts of myths and their impact on norms and values in the societies concerned;
  • Comparison of wider historical and typological convergences of myth as far as forms, themes, and existential questions are concerned.
Other Speakers:

Dr Florentina Badalanova
Professor Wendy Doniger
Dr Cynthia Eller
Ms Sîan Hawthorne
Dr. Wanjiku Mukabi Kabira
Professor Mineke Schipper, University of Leiden, Netherlands
Professor Robert Segal
Professor Ye Shuxian
Professor Ivan Strenski (Keynote Speaker)

Attendance at the conference is open to all academics and postgraduate students who wish to participate. Presentation, however, is by invitation only in order that the remit of the conference remains carefully focused on the key themes.

The conference registration fee is £50 (waged) / £30 (unwaged). Please complete the booking form in order to ensure a place at the conference.