The Dragon: Making Sense Of A World Wide Myth

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Chris Knight

The Dragon: Making Sense Of A World Wide Myth

Tuesday, April 16, 2019 - 18:45

Everyone is familiar with the mythical motif of the Dragon. In myths and fairy tales across the world, we find different versions of a snake-like, coiling creature which connects earth and sky, dwells in water, breathes fire and has a particular fondness for young maidens. In this talk, Chris will be proposing a revolutionary new way of decoding dragon myths. The dragon has nothing to do with folk memories of dinosaurs. Instead, it belongs to the sphere of human ritual, particularly initiation ritual. The dragon is a way of representing matrilineal kinship and women's solidarity through menstrual synchrony, a social force often depicted negatively under conditions of patriarchy. Some of the most persuasive evidence for this new interpretation comes from Aboriginal Australia, where stories about a Rainbow Snake are not disembodied myths but are still acted out in ritual performance.

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Chris Knight

How To Lose An Argument With Noam Chomsky
Tuesday, January 28, 2020 - 18:45
Daryll Forde Seminar Room, Anthropology Building, 14 Taviton St, off Gordon Sq., London WC1H 0BW. Tube: Euston Square. map

Winning an argument with the Pope would be difficult unless you agreed in advance about central postulates of Catholic doctrine such as virgin birth, original sin and the evils of birth control. In this lecture, Chris Knight tells the story of his unsuccessful attempts to argue against the reigning master of modern linguistics, Noam Chomsky. When Knight published his recent book, 'Decoding Chomsky', he was hoping to shift the ground in our scientific understanding of language, arguing for its intrinsically social nature. But experience has shown that arguing with an infallible figure is not so easy, even when the master's doctrines make no sense.