The bibliography on modern reworkings of mythical narratives is immense: Greco-Latin myths in novels and adventure films, adaptations of Celtic, Norse, or Slavic myths in cinema, TV series and comics, the relationships between Eastern and Western myths… The list is endless and somehow overabundant compared to the smaller (though still huge) bibliography of theories of myth. The reason for this disproportion is due, in part, to the difficulty involved in abstracting general criteria. When critics seek to define myth, they must first strip it of spatial, temporal or circumstantial conditioning; only later will they be able to apply the label “myth” to this or that story.
Different key factors of our contemporary society (the phenomenon of globalisation, the dogmas of relativism, the logics of immanence) make the definition of myth even more difficult for the non-specialized public and for academic researchers alike. Indeed, academic reflection has not been immune to contemporary confusion about myth: in the wake of great psychoanalysts, sociologists or ideologues, many researchers apply to their work certain conceptions of myth that identify it with individual sublimations, social deformations, or tendentious ideologies. For this reason, later on, the non-specialized public ―cheered on by the sensationalism of the press― likes to label any fallacy as “mythical”: apparently, the term “myth” cloaks the user of non-mythical discourses with a golden aura.
In addition to these epistemological difficulties, there is another challenge: the prevailing confusion between different correlates of the imaginary. There are many studies that indiscriminately address the domains of esotericism, fantasy, science fiction, and mythology. Coherent studies that dispel vagueness and provide distinctions in the academic critique of these correlates of the imaginary are needed.
All these problems call for a well-founded reflection on a more securely defined notion of myth. Only then will it be possible for researchers to properly address an interpretation of mythical narratives, that is, without previously imposing on the texts what they already intend to discover in them. These questions, among others, are those that the 7th International Conference on Myth Criticism aims to answer.
What is myth? When can a story be classified as mythical? How should we think about myth in our contemporary society? Is it too rigorous to state that myth is inherently tautological and lacks any direct correlation with our real world? In other words, how is it possible that an unverifiable mythical predicate can “refer” to our world? Can myth express any kind of truth? Does it add a knowledge that is coherent with reality? Does it reveal a falsehood? If myth has its own ways of expressing truths about the world, what differentiates it from the postulates of scientific and experimental reason? If myth presupposes the intervention of the numinous, what distinguishes it from religion and literature?
In previous International Conferences on Myth Criticism, more than 1,500 participants from thirty countries have addressed various problems around the adaptation and interpretation of myths in our contemporary society:
- I International Conference on Myth Criticism: “Myth and Subversion in the Contemporary Novel” (9th-11th March 2011).
- II International Conference on Myth Criticism: “Myth and Interdisciplinarity” (29th- 30th October 2012).
- III International Conference on Myth Criticism: “Myths in Crisis. The Crisis of Myth” (21st- 24th October 2014).
- IV International Conference on Myth Criticism: “Myth and Emotions” (24th-28th October 2016).
- V International Conference on Myth Criticism: “Myth and Audiovisual Creation” (15th-26th October 2018).
- VI International Conference on Myth Criticism: “Myth and Science Fiction” (27th-30th October 2020).
The VII International Conference on Myth Criticism “Myth: Theories of a Controversial Concept” (25th-28th October 2022) will analyse the difficulties encountered by critics in defining myth, discuss traditional definitions and propose a renewal in the epistemology of myth.