Celtic mythology is full of strong female characters: goddesses, queens, warriors, poets, seers, and even druids! But what was life really like for women in ancient and medieval Celtic societies? In this monthly reading group we will discuss how women are portrayed — and how they portray themselves — in Irish and Welsh mythology, poetry, law codes, saints’ lives, and folklore spanning over two thousand years of Celtic history.
Our Spring 2014 series focuses on the ancient Celtic world and on the stories of the Ulster cycle: epic tales of queens, kings, and warriors set at the dawn of Irish civilization. All works will be read in English translation!
The course is divided into four two-hour sessions, and will meet on the fourth Wednesday of each month starting in February 2014:
- I · Celtic Women in the Ancient World: Myths and Realities. Wednesday, February 26, 2014 · 7-9 pm · Texts: Ancient Celtic inscriptions · Classical authors on the Celts · Topics: Overview and introduction · Women and magic · The Celtic sovereignty goddess
- II · Queens and Goddesses, Mothers and Wives. Wednesday, March 26, 2014· 7-9 pm · Texts: The Wooing of Étaín · Tales of the Ulster Cycle · Topics: Women and the Otherworld · Birth and rebirth · Marriage, property, and kingship in early Ireland
- III · Warriors and Witches. Wednesday, April 23, 2014 · 7-9 pm · Texts: The Cattle Raid of Cooley (Táin Bó Cuailnge) · Topics: Women, warriors, and women warriors · Women’s rights and wrongs in Irish law · Celtic goddesses of war
- IV · Queens and Goddesses, Mothers and Wives. Wednesday, May 28, 2014 · 7-9 pm · Texts: The Tale of Macc Da Thó’s Pig · Bricriu’s Feast · Topics: Female heroes and female villains · Battles of the sexes in Irish mythology · Christian scribes, pagan stories
- War, Women, and Druids: Eyewitness Reports and Early Accounts of the Ancient Celts, ed. and tr. Philip Freeman · University of Texas Press · ISBN 978-0292718364.
- Early Irish Myths and Sagas, ed. and tr. Jeffrey Gantz · Penguin Classics · ISBN 978-0140443974.
- The Táin: From the Irish Epic Táin Bó Cuailnge, ed. and tr. Thomas Kinsella · Oxford University Press · ISBN 978-0199218783.
Registration: Download the registration form for our Spring 2014 reading and discussion groups here.
Course Fee: $80 for the full course (four sessions) with advance registration, or $25 per session at the door. Walk-ins are welcome!
Payments: Please make checks payable to Benjamin Bruch. You can also pay using PayPal or a major credit card on our website.