Some good news from the world of Our Mythical Childhood: the volume Chasing Mythical Beasts: The Reception of Ancient Monsters in Children’s and Young Adults’ Culture, which was published last year by the University of Heidelberg, is now available online, and open-access.
It’s a lovely volume, stemming from a conference of the same name (funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation) held at the Faculty of “Artes Liberales” at the University of Warsaw, and run by the remarkable Katarzyna Marciniak. At the conference, and in the volume, scholars from around the world discussed how children’s and young adults’ culture engages with the beasts, monsters, and magical beings of the ancient world. Medusa, Minotaur, Sirens, Cyclopes, Cerberus, Centaurs, Hydra, Pegasus and more: these beings feature in all kinds of texts—as heroes, as villains, and as figures that represent the complexities and mysteries of the worlds we live in.
Not do only figures from ancient Greece and Rome feature in this volume: there are chapters on other ancient traditions, such as the African Wobo, Cameroonian concepts of humanity, the Polish Wawel Dragon, the Leviathan across the world. And the texts of youth culture vary from the serious to the sublime and the silly—showing how mythical creatures shed their magic in all sorts of realms. (Katarzyna’s chapter on ‘Chasing Mythical Muppets,’ for instance, shows how mythical creatures have impact on young viewers in unexpected ways).
The volume is large—600+ pages, as befits such a capacious topic. And it could have been much larger still. And thanks to the principles of open access, it is available to all for reading. I recommend a look through the contents pages to see what treats are contained in this book.