University of Jendouba, Tunisia and the Institut de Recherche en Langues et Littératures Européennes, ILLE of the University of Haute Alsace, Mulhouse, France are pleased to announce the organisation of an international conference on ʻCreating Myths as Narratives of Empowerment and Disempowermentʼ to be held at the High Institute of Human Sciences of Jendouba from 10 to 12 March 2014.
Literacy, the advance of philosophical inquiry and Plato’s separation of ‘mythos’ from ‘logos’ signaled the birth of an intellectual hierarchy that caused the association of myth with implausibility, something that was later corroborated by the growth of scientific inquiry and rationalism. Yet, while myths seem to become distinctively associated with fantasy, their impact can still be contemplated with respect to every aspect of human history that implicates narration and (dis)empowerment. The discourses that have accompanied rising and waning orders and monarchies have shaped national feeling and identity as ‘myths’, whereby private and public narratives intersect. Whether we try to think of narratives related to the Arthurian tradition, the birth of Rome or the founding of Carthage out of an oxen skin, national identity is shaped as a space where myths of beginnings overlap with history and power. Political narratives turn into mythical accounts in the sense that they interfere between leaders and social groups to shape, explain and justify ideologies. In politics, mythologizing the narrative produces narratives that are repeatedly replicated to spawn an illusion of truth. Thus, terms such as the ‘Cold War’ or the ‘Arab Spring’ may lead us to think of uniform patterns that guided a complex set of events, disregarding their complexities and discounting alternative narratives. Moreover, as nationalism consolidated the mythologization of narratives, alternative histories started to acquire mythological significance, borrowing mythical names and imports, a trend postmodern thinking has supported.
Branches of the social sciences like anthropology and sociology have equally lent attention to myth as a space through which unrepresented groups can tell their stories in non-linear patterns, hence, for instance, the growing interest in myth in relation with gender studies and folk studies. With the works of De Saussure and Levi Strauss, linguistics and structuralism acquired a novel interest in myth. Believed to be a big vessel for collective consciousness in the Jungian sense, structuralism contends that myths of the ancient times are still present with little variations in their essential structures. While it is believed that the fading of religion and spirituality in contemporary times led to the obliteration of myth, it is not difficult to find traces of myth within the recurrence of symbols and paradigms in media and popular culture. This recurrence is akin to the telling and retelling of narratives, serving, as Hanno Hardt argues, ‘the new gods of mass culture.’
Starting from these assumptions, the organizers invite proposals for papers (of 20 minutes duration) addressing ‘Creating Myths as Narratives of Empowerment and Disempowerment.’ They particularly welcome interdisciplinary contributions, especially ones that bridge the domains of literature, cultural studies, gender, psychoanalysis and linguistics, but they equally encourage submissions on all aspects of myths that involve the ideas of narrativity, empowerment and disempowerment. To encourage innovative dialogues, we warmly welcome papers from diverse disciplines, falling within the scope of one of the following themes, among others:
The Arab world, change and myth
Myth and narratives in the postcolonial context
Postmodernism and myth
Myth and folk studies
Myth and the politics of race and ethnicity
Myth as resistance and/or perpetuation
Myth in popular culture
Responses to myths
Myths, rewriting history, and power
Creating new myths
Myths of political reform and/or political repression
Myth and national identity
Feminist approaches to myths
Revisionism and myths
Science vs. myths
Myth and rhetoric
Myths and oral traditions of the Americas
(Dis)empowering myths and visual arts
PROPOSALS should be about 400 words, including the abstract and a brief biography and sent to firstname.lastname@example.org NO LATER THAN 30th November 2013.
CONFERENCE FEES: -Either 70 Euros for international participants and 100 Tunisian dinars for local participants (including publication, accommodation, food, refreshments, printing services, and cultural programme).
-Or 35 Euros for international participants and 50 Tunisian dinars for local participants (including presentation, lunch, coffee break, and publication).
CONFERENCE LANGUAGE is English, but proposals in French can also be accepted.
NOTIFICATION: Acceptance of proposals will be notified by December 2013.
CONTACT: For questions, please write to email@example.com
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