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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

IAS Fellow's Seminar - The Persistence of Myth and Ritual in the Modern Age

16th October 2017, 13:00 to 14:00, IAS Seminar Room, Palace Green, Professor Tiziana de Rogatis (Università per Stranieri di Siena)

In this seminar, Professor Tiziana de Rogatis will articulate three times of the persistence of myth and ritual in modern and contemporary culture.

The first time is related to the modernism of the Anglophone area and its creative experimentation between the 1920s and 1940s. Modernists - in particular T. S. Eliot, James Joyce and Ezra Pound - use myth as a structure that can contain ‘the immense panorama of futility and anarchy’ of the contemporary world (T. S. Eliot).

The second time is related to a criticism of myth, articulated in 1957 by Roland Barthes in Mythologies. According to Barthes, the reuse of myth emerges in mass society and aesthetics as a visual structure that isolates and delivers the lived experience from which abstract and conventional narrative is derived.

The third time, finally, raises myth - as the Eliotian and modernist tradition already did - as a structure of containment and experimentation of subjectivity but from the gendered perspective of women writers. Many important women writers of the modern and the contemporary age, from Edith Wharton to Christa Wolf, from Toni Morrison to Elena Ferrante, use myth and ritual as a structure that contains and at the same time enhances the psychological and social precariousness of women. Myth grammaticalizes both the peculiarity and the universality of these creative experiments because it provides a shared and freely re-invented repertoire of themes and forms through which women writers encode a new symbolic order.

Places are limited at these lunchtime seminars and so any academic colleagues interested in attending, should contact the Institute in advance to reserve a place.

Contact enquiries.ias@durham.ac.uk for more information about this event.