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Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

Professor Marina Warner: Airborne Dreaming - a Prehistory of Flight

2nd March 2009, 18:30, Room 407, Calman Learning Centre

This is the fourth lecture in the Figuring the Human Public Lecture Series.

Myths and fairy tales are thronged with flying creatures - angels and deities, demons and fairies. Flight is one of the defining dreams of magic, a power that magical thinking imagined before the fact.

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the book of 'A Thousand and One Nights' above all realised magical motifs, and the flying carpet, one of the most famous features of those stories, acts as a vehicle of rapture and ecstasy as well as power over time and space. At the same time as such fairy tales were circulating, early scientific fantasies of flight led to a rich literature of imaginary voyages – the influence of Sinbad and other tales about flying machines and devices. Marina Warner will explore these prophetic annunciations of the coming era of powered flight.

Marina Warner is a prize-winning writer of fiction, criticism and history; her works include novels and short stories as well as studies of female myths and symbols. She is a Professor in the Department of Literature, Film and Theatre Studies, University of Essex where she teaches courses on Fairy-Tales and other forms of narrative. She is currently is writing a book about magic and magicians.

This public lecture is free and open to all. Doors open at 6.00pm. There is no need to book, places are on a first come, first served basis.

Contact c.p.fernyhough@durham.ac.uk for more information about this event.

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