Epic Women

There is a call to explore a very interesting theme of EPIC Women on Narthaki.com by Anita Ratnam:

Kartik Fine Arts presents
Conference/Performance Conclave
December 20 – 23, 2012 Chennai
Call for papers: Deadline Sept 1, 2012

email: epicwomen12@gmail.com

May 30, 2012

Epics recount histories of nations via long narrative poems conveying the roles played by men, women, and gods along with creatures of the animal and spirit worlds. Among this multitude in epics, we focus on the concept of the “epic” from ancient to modern times.

We embrace and welcome a variety of epic women – characters in Indian and Greek epics such as Sita, Savitri, and Helen of Sparta, dramatic figures such as Kannagi and the remarkable women of the Silppadikaram, historical and political figures who assume “epic” proportions for their courage and leadership in struggles for their communities in various geographical locations, and at times, ordinary women like the African American Rosa Parks whose refusal to abide by racist and unjust laws inspired the Civil Rights struggle in the US.

Our discussions, through academic papers and formal performances, focus on both positive figures of monumental women from the past and present who have impact and resonance on humanity such as the incredible, indeed “epic” courage of opposition political activist Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma (now Myanmar), winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize, who spent 15 of the past 21years under house arrest until her recent release. Along with the positive, we also propose to examine the seamy sides of human history and epic proportions of human degradation under “iron women” such as a Margaret Thatcher or Indira Gandhi who did not always use their political power wisely or with moderation. The unique South Asian phenomenon of wives, widows, mothers, daughters and sisters who assume political power after the elimination of a male power within family is also examined.

We welcome papers and performance proposals that engage with “epic women” ranging across time-lines and locations – from the world’s recognized epics – India’s Ramayana and Mahabharata, Greece’s Iliad and Odyssey, Mali’s (West Africa) Epic of Sundiata, Mesopotamia’s Gilgamesh, Persia’s Shahnameh, Egypt’s The Tale of Sinuhe, along with myths, legends, and creation stories world-wide that take on epic dimensions. We consider epic figures in stories that are part of our common human unconscious such as Cinderella or Medea; powerful women in literary representation as in Shakespearean, Greek, Ancient Sanskrit, Tamil and Modern Indian Drama; and in political life, women national leaders and their exercise of power.

We might also imagine future epic representations of the many ordinary and unsung heroes who put their lives on the line during the Arab Spring of 2011 in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and still unfolding in other parts of the Middle East. The sheer numbers of people in a location like the historic Tahrir Square demanding basic human rights was inspirational to the Occupy Movement in the US with “we are the 99%” that spread from New York’s Wall Street to many major cities.

Proposals for papers and performances may undertake comparative and cross-cultural perspectives. We are interested in provocative critical engagements, and challenging discussions that bring new illuminations to our common understanding of “epic women.”

EPIC WOMEN will have three mornings of papers and short dramatic presentations. Each evening there will be three performances in the medium of classical, neo classical and dance theatre style in a formal auditorium setting.

Deadline for Submission: Bio (150 words – please do not send complete Resume) and Abstract (250 words – please keep to this word limit) by September 1, 2012.

– Dr. Anita R Ratnam
Convenor and Artistic Director


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