This project studies the patterns in which the Medusa myth shapes, constructs, and transforms new meanings of women today, correlating portrayals in ancient Greek myth, nineteenth- century Symbolist painting, and new, controversial, visions of women in contemporary art.
The myth of the Medusa has long been the ultimate symbol of woman as monster. With her roots in classical mythology, Medusa has appeared time and again throughout history and culture and this book studies the patterns in which the Medusa myth shapes, constructs, and transforms new meanings of women today. Hedgecock presents an interdisciplinary and broad historical “cultural reflections” of the modern Medusa, including the work of Maria Callas, Nan Goldin, the Symbolist painters and twentieth-century poets.
This timely and necessary work will be key reading for students and researchers specializing in mythology or gender studies across a variety of fields, touching on interdisciplinary research in feminist theory, art history and theory, cultural studies, and psychology.
Table of Contents
PART I: The Myth
Introduction: The Shadow in the Glass
1. The Modern Medusa
2. The Historical and Mythical Origins of Medusa
Gaia the Primordial Goddess
The Medusa Head in Greek Myth
3. Symbolism in the Medusa Myth
The Decapitated Head of Medusa
The Snake Archetype
The Rite of Passage
Philosophical Influences on the Symbolist Movement
PART II: Symbolist Interpretations of Medusa
4. Jean Delville and The Idol of Perversity
5. Franz von Stuck and Medusean Images in Paintings
6. Edvard Munch and the Fatal Woman of Medusa
Early Influences on the Artist
Munch in Paris
The Cat and Medusa Motifs
The Use of the Mask
The Medusa Head in Art
PART III: Conclusion -
7. Medusa in the 21st Century
Nan Goldin and A New Vision of Medusa
8. Liz Craft and the All Knowing “I”
Jennifer Hedgecock is Professor of English at Saddleback College and teaches Shakespeare’s plays, early British literature, and world literature. She has also taught at the University of California, Irvine and Michigan State University. Her publications include The Sexual Threat and Danger of the Femme Fatale in Victorian Literature (2008) and “William Blake and The Road to Hell: Demystifying the Cultural Iconoclasm of the Hells Angels,” in Rethinking Madness: Interdisciplinary and Multicultural Reflections (2019).