Centre for Myth Studies 10th Anniversary Symposium: The Old & the New

Orpheus Leading Eurydice from the Underworld

2018 marks the tenth anniversary of the Centre for Myth Studies at the University of Essex. All are warmly invited to attend “The Old and the New” on Friday 11 May 2018, a one-day symposium in celebration of the anniversary. The event showcases the types of events organised by the Centre in the first ten years of its existence: keynote lecture, performance/reading followed by in-conversation session, seminar and critical reading. For full details about the programme and how to register for this free event, please see our event page.

Since its foundation in 2008, the Centre for Myth Studies has been dedicated to exploring the significance of myth in ancient and modern times, and raising awareness of its importance within the contemporary world. The Centre’s interdisciplinary study of myth is reflected in the activities it has promoted and supported, including the weekly Myth Reading Group, and seminar series convened by Dr Ben Pestell (2008-2014) and Dr Pietra Palazzolo (since 2014), international conferences, publications, and website content (browse our website for information about past & current events). This interdisciplinary mode of inquiry is also reflected in the founding story of the Centre, and in its collaboration with a number of departments & researchers at Essex University, and other universities & institutions in the UK and abroad. Founded in 2008 by Dr Leon Burnett in the department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, the Centre moved to the department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies in 2014, under the directorship of Professor Roderick Main. The first achievements of the Centre focused on the exploration of the intersection between myth, literature, and psychoanalytical studies with a Master’s course, international conference, and book all titled Myth, Literature, and the Unconscious. The Translating Myth conference (2013), and book publication (Legenda, 2017), and latest conference on Translating Eurydice (2017) in collaboration with the University of East London offered further points of cross-disciplinary discussion with contributions that addressed myth from a number of viewpoints from cognate fields of research, including literature, translation studies, psychoanalytical studies, and material culture. See information about our conferences & publications.

Our anniversary event on 11 May will open with an introductory address by current director, Professor Roderick Main (PPS), reading of “The Man of the Wood” by Essex alumnus Dr Saul Andreetti (Bologna) & in conversation session about Saul’s short story with Dr Leon Burnett. We are delighted to complete the programme with a keynote lecture on the “Functions of myth” by Professor Jose’ Manuel Losada (Complutense University, Madrid), followed by a seminar on “Re-imaginings of myth in contemporary literature” by Dr Pietra Palazzolo (Centre for Myth Studies, & Open University)

The Centre for Myth Studies has a long history of collaboration with José Manuel, Director of Asteria: International Association of Myth Criticism, and Professor at the University of Complutense, and contribution to the biennial International Conference on Myth Criticism organised by Jose’ Manuel and his team. This year the conference explores Myth & Audiovisual Creation and offers four strands of discussion (Germanic, Classical, Biblical, and Modern Myths) in four universities. Check out the report on “The Digital Revolution” prepared by Jose’ Manuel Losada, Director of the Conference, under the “Justification” tab of the page where there is also a link to the full version of the report.

Their CFP has now closed, but we recommend the conference to anyone interested in exploring the impact of myth on a wide range of audiovisual works (film, TV series, video games, anime, performing arts, transmedia storytelling). Organised by the Project Acis & Galatea (@Acis&GalateaDM), and in collaboration with Asteria & a number of other universities & institutions, the conference offers the opportunity to attend at reduced rate for Asteria members or to apply for young researchers grants. See the information on the conference & Asteria websites.

This year’s conference on Myth & Audiovisual Creation offers a fantastic range of myths across cultures and it would certainly interest anyone working on the reception & re-interpretation of myth in a range of media from the 1900 to the present. In addition to the strands dedicated to specific mythologies (Germanic, Classical, & Biblical myths), the Modern Myths strand (University of Complutense, from 24 to 26 October) also welcomes papers on works that display a mixture of different myths (mythical syncretism), including those from all other strands, as well as on modern myths (Faust, Don Juan, Frankenstein, Dracula), and superheroes (Iron Man, Super Woman, Thor, Batman).

Asteria has also announced a competition for short films (between 2 and 5 mins) on the topic of The World of Myth & Madrid. Films (up to two entries per artist) should be emailed to asteriamyth@gmail.com by 31 Aug 2018, & DM any questions to @AsteriaMyth. A selection of ten films will be presented & shown at the V International Conference on Mythcriticism: Myth & Audiovisual Creation Conference. Three prizes will be awarded at the Conference in Madrid on 24 October: 1st Prize 400€ ; 2nd Prize 200€ ; 3rd Prize 100€. The association publishes articles in Spanish, English, and French in Amaltea: Journal of Myth Criticism , founded by Professor José Manuel Losada in 2008.


The Centre for Myth Studies would be very happy to hear from people and institutions interested in myth and mythology from an interdisciplinary perspective. We would especially welcome suggestions for topics to discuss at our reading group. Our theme of Trees & Forests across two terms this year has inspired a wide range of presentations & discussion on the significance of trees, woods, and forests in mythical narratives & artworks. Our collaboration with #FolkloreThursday on 22 February 2018 resulted in a fantastic range of contributions to the theme of #TreesAndForests, which can be browsed on the Twitter Moments we curated. Further information on a range of events related to the theme can also be found on the CFP published on the centre’s website.

We are delighted to have a full programme for the Summer term of the Myth Reading Group, with contributions from members of the centre and external speakers, including Tolkien & fantasy literature specialist Dr Dimitra Fimi (Cardiff Metropolitan University), Classicist & Public Engagement Fellow Dr Emma Bridges (Institute of Classical Studies) & #FolkloreThursday content editor Amelia Starling.

The organisation of the Myth Reading Group is closely related to the content we post on our website and social media networks. The CFP for guest blog articles on our dedicated WordPress website is open to anyone interested in myth across periods, cultures, and media. Check out the series of articles published in our guest blogging section, and watch this space for more entries in the coming months. Expressions of interest for blog articles can be sent to mythic@essex.ac.uk or you can DM questions to Pietra (@drppalazzolo).

Our centre has an active presence on social media with Twitter and Facebook accounts managed by Pietra, & Eirini Apanomeritaki. If you wish to keep track of our events, we recommend that you subscribe to our website, and send us an email to be included in the mailing list (mythic@essex.ac.uk). We are also very interested in networking with scholars and institutions working on myth and mythology across disciplines, cultures, and periods.

Dr Pietra Palazzolo teaches modern and contemporary literature, critical theory, and interdisciplinary studies at the Open University. She serves on the Executive Committee of the Centre for Myth Studies (University of Essex) and has been Convener of the Myth Reading Group & Open Seminar series at the Centre since 2014. Her PhD examined John Banville’s encounter with the work of Wallace Stevens and Samuel Beckett. She has co-edited Translating Myth (2016), and published a number of book chapters including “Desire, Pursuit, & Loss: The Making of Athena” (forthcoming), “‘Tell[ing] one story in place of another’: Journeys of Discovery in Jackie Kay’s Autobiographical Prose and Poetry” (2017), and “Telling Stories: Alterity & Ethics in Banville’s The Untouchable & Shroud” (2005). Her current research focuses on redefinitions of the concept of home and belonging in C21 literature, & on re-imaginings of myth in performance poetry, storytelling, & fiction. You can follow her on Twitter @drppalazzolo, @MythStudies, & @AsteriaMyth.

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