Chasing Mythical Beasts… 


The project Chasing Mythical Beasts… The Reception of Creatures from Graeco-Roman Mythology in Children’s & Young Adults’ Culture as a Transformation Marker explores how mythical creatures change when incorporated into the evolving youth culture. It is supported by the Humboldt Alumni Award for Innovative Networking Initiatives given by the German Alexander von Humboldt Foundation to its Alumni across the world. The Award is designed for all disciplines, in order to promote pioneering formats for multilateral academic cooperation and to enhance understanding between individual countries or cultures (see here for more information).

The project is being implemented at the Centre for Studies on the Classical Tradition (OBTA), Faculty of “Artes Liberales”, University of Warsaw. We develop our research initiated in 2012–2013 within the Loeb Classical Library Foundation Grant for the project Our Mythical Childhood… The Classics and Children’s Literature Between East and West – an innovative endeavour to carry out a reconnaissance of the reception of Classical Antiquity in the literature for youngsters. The major novelty was highlighting regional perspectives treated as extremely valuable contexts for the re-readings of the classical tradition (see the project’s website and a report in “Eos”). The project opened so many new and fascinating perspectives that it became simply necessary to pursue our adventure.

Thus, the project Chasing Mythical Beasts… developed in what was an almost natural way. We included into our research not only literature, but culture writ large, and in so doing we chose a novel reception ‘filter’ – the issue of human/non-human relations. The scholars from different parts of the world – from the United States, through Cameroon, Kenya, many European countries, to Australia – study how the reception of creatures and monsters from Graeco-Roman mythology reflects the changes in human sensitivity, morality, and attitude to the concept of the monstrosity itself. We are meeting on May 12-15, 2016, for an international conference under the Honorary Patronage of the Polish Young Academy, to present and discuss our research results.

A special exhibition of illustrations and photos at the University of Warsaw’s Gallery will accompany the conference. We continue thus our much inspiring collaboration with the artists, which resulted in 2013 in the exhibition Myths Actually! prepared by the Illustration Studio at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. Among many interesting artworks presented at that time there was Cerberus by Maja Abgarowicz – we express here our thanks for her permission to use it on the website of this new venture.

The project’s aim is also to involve students in research and to go out beyond the academic community. Thus, a special task has been proposed both for participants of an experimental seminar at the Faculty of “Artes Liberales” and for school students of various levels: to add their ideas to the research of scholars. We believe that this time too, a Community is coming into being at the University understood as a place where diverse people striving for knowledge meet to talk, learn from each other, and share the experience of Classical Antiquity.

We express our gratitude to the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, to the Embassy of Germany, to the National Museum in Warsaw, to the Foundation “Artes Liberales” Institute, and to our Faculty of “Artes Liberales” at the University of Warsaw and all our colleagues and friends for their help and support through the whole project. We are also pleased to announce that this exciting endeavour is going forward – within the framework of the European Research Council Consolidator Grant for the project Our Mythical Childhood… The Reception of Classical Antiquity in Children’s and Young Adults’ Culture in Response to Regional and Global Challenges.

P.S. We confirm that no mythical creature was harmed in the carrying out of the project. They are still at large, so keep calm and be ready to enjoy meeting them at any time…

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