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The Humanities Conference 2003

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"...she opened her ear to the great below...": Living Feminist Mythology in the Footsteps of Inanna

Sarah Nicholson.


Joseph Campbell’s renowned interpretation of the hero’s journey begins with he who hears the call. He who sets out into the unknown, to confront the question of who he truly is. The hero’s journey in mythology is the tale of departure, insight and return, which acts as a spiritually symbolic map for the realisation of the true relational self. Mythological stories of this journey express the gap between experience of the transcendent and language through symbolic affective prompts. Affective symbols are designed to elicit a direct embodied response; a movement beyond the dualistic conceptual mind into nondual awareness.

The heroine has occupied a problematic space. The classic heroine of fairytale connotes stasis and passivity as she lies in wait of the hero’s kiss. In Joseph Campbell’s classic interpretation of the hero’s journey, the heroine’s status is primarily conferred in reference to her relationship to the male journeyer, a position which female archetypes also occupied in Jung’s psychoanalytic interpretations (which feminist attempts to reclaim mythology have problematically encountered).

The Sumerian mythologies of Inanna are remarkably unique in their depiction of a classical journey with a heroine as protagonist. Much positive emphasis is placed on Inanna’s embodiment as a woman and her journey is made with conscious deliberation. What is it to start the journey of self as a woman?

Presenters

Sarah Nicholson  (Australia)
Postgraduate researcher

University of Western Sydney

Sarah Nicholson is a Phd student in the School of Social Ecology at the University of Western Sydney, Australia. After achieving first class honours for her dissertation “Reclaiming the Streets : youth, street performance and community space” - which was subsequently presented at the Education and Social Action conference at the University of Technology , Sydney - she was awarded a UWS Postgraduate Research scholarship for her current work. She is also a published author, editor and poet.

Keywords
  • The heroine's journey
  • Feminist mythology and nondual ontology



(30 min Conference Paper, English)