Laughing with Medusa: Classical Myth and Feminist Thought

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From their beginnings Greek myths have been recounted by those with compelling agendas. One of the strategies of feminist criticism has been to take these well-worn stories about the world and its inhabitants and tell them from a different perspective. The concept of revision has led to potent transformations of mythic figures who have been denigrated for centuries into symbols of Utopia. Ancient narratives of resistance and struggle have been revivified to inspire new audiences. The most famous contemporary example is probably Helene Cixous's 'Laugh of the Medusa'-the power of this essay undoubtedly derives, in part, from the inscrutable figure of its title. The importance of classical myth is not restricted to the psychoanalytical feminist tradition within which Cixous may be located. In spheres such as politics, philosophy, historiography, art history as well as the history and theory of science, figures such as Helen, Antigone, Daphne, the Amazons, the Muses, Persephone, Penelope, Thetis, Hercules, and Achilles continue to make substantial contributions to the development of feminist thought. The essays in Laughing with Medusa explore the reception of classical myth within feminist writing from a truly interdisciplinary perspective. They include a specially commissioned work of fiction, 'Iphigeneia's Wedding', by the writer Elizabeth Cook.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199274383
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 3/23/2006
  • Series: Classical Presences Series
  • Pages: 460
  • Product dimensions: 8.60 (w) x 5.80 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Vanda Zajko is Lecturer in Classics and Ancient History, University of Bristol.
Miriam Leonard is Lecturer in Classics and Ancient History, University of Bristol.

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Table of Contents

Introduction, Vanda Zajko and Miriam Leonard
I. Myth and Psychoanalysis
Hope, Promise, Threaten, and Swear: Psychoanalytic Myths of the Future for Boys and Girls, Rachel Bowlby
'Who are we when we read?' Keats, Klein, Cixous, and Elizabeth Cook's Achilles, Vanda Zajko
Beyond Oedipus: Feminist Thought, Psychoanalysis, and Mythical Figurations of the Feminine, Griselda Pollock
2. Myth and Politics
Lacan, Irigaray, and Beyond: Antigones and the Politics of Psychoanalysis, Miriam Leonard
Antigone and the Politics of Sisterhood, Simon Goldhill
Fascism on Stage: Jean Anouilh's Antigone, Katie Fleming
3. Myth and History
A Woman's History of Warfare, Ellen O'Gorman
Beyond glorious Ocean': Feminism, Myth, and America, Greg Staley
4. Myth and Science
Atoms, Individuals, and Myths, Duncan Kennedy
The Philosopher and the Mother Cow: Towards a Gendered Reading of Lucretius' De Rerum Natura, Alison Sharrock
Science Fictions and Cyber Myths: Or, Do Cyborgs Dream of Dolly the Sheep?, Genevieve Liveley
5. Myth and Poetry
Putting the Women Back into the Hesiodic Catalogue of Women, Lillian Doherty
Reclaiming the Muse, Penny Murray
Defying History: The Legacy of Helen in Modern Poetry, Efi Spentzou
'This tart fable': Daphne, Apollo, and Contemporary Women's Poetry, Rowena Fowler
Iphigeneia's Wedding, Elizabeth Cook

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