University of Copenhagen, Faculty of Humanities

Indo-European Religion and Poetics – A Comparative Approach: Myth, Ritual and Language

Date and time

Friday 11 October 2019 at 09:00 to Saturday 12 October 2019 at 18:00

Registration Deadline

Monday 30 September 2019 at 23:55


UCPH South Campus. Room 15A.0.13
Karen Blixens Plads 8


Laura Massetti, Department of Nordic Studies and Linguistics

Religion and poetics, ritual and myth are central, fascinating dimensions of the ancient world, which somehow have never stopped talking to us. Indeed, as Aby Warburg wrote, “where the technical explanation of cause and effect replaces the mythical imagination, man loses his primitive fears. But we should be loth to decide whether this emancipation from the mythological view really helps mankind to find a fitting answer to the problems of existence” (A Lecture on Serpent Ritual, Journal of the Warburg Institute 2/4: 291). Through the study of ancient myth and ritual we learn more about the ancient societies to which they belonged. At the same time, the in-depth analysis of ancient stories teaches us something about modern man's truest fears and desires.

Conference focus:

This conference focuses on the Indo-European language family and spotlights Indo-European religion and poetics. The event brings together scholars who have an interest in Indo-European traditions, in order to encourage an interdisciplinary dialogue on diverse, yet interwoven aspects of Indo-European culture, such as ritual, myth and language. The conference especially endeavors to exploit the full potential of the linguistic reconstruction for the analysis of Indo-European literary and religious texts. It is undeniable that the genetic study of the origins of myths and rituals changes the way we look at single literary texts as well as at our archetypes. On the one hand, it sheds light on the dynamics of the style and storytelling of individual authors who, within their own geographical and temporal settings, juggle between uniqueness and traditionality. On the other, the comparative perspective on ancient religions uncovers similarities among apparently distant traditions. In this way, it enables us to develop a balanced perception of our cultural identity.

Invited speakers

  • José Luis García Ramón (Harvard Center for Hellenic Studies)
  • Peter Jackson Rova (Stockholm University)
  • Stephanie W. Jamison (University of California, Los Angeles)
  • Joshua Katz (Princeton University)
  • Claire Le Feuvre (Sorbonne University)


Event Location

Organizer Contact Information

Laura Massetti, Department of Nordic Studies and Linguistics