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Miriam Robbins Dexter

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Miriam Robbins Dexter

Research Scholar since 1998
mdexter@ucla.edu

As always, my goal for my work is a feminist one: in all of my work I discuss and honor the feminine divine (rather than a singular male divinity). This allows women to identify with the divine, just as men are able to identify with an anthropomorphic male divinity. I believe that this is an important part of radical feminism. 

Robbins Dexter received her Ph.D. in Indo-European Studies from UCLA in 1978. She has been a lecturer at UCLA, the Union Institute, Occidental College, University of Southern California, California State University, Northridge, California State University, Los Angeles, University of Colorado, Boulder, University of Iasi (Moldavia, Romania) and New Bulgarian University (Sofia, Bulgaria), among others. She has been teaching a UCLA Honors Collegium called “Acting Myth” since 2000, and a UCLA Women's Studies Program and Honors Program class called “The Roots of Patriarchy: Ancient Goddesses and Heroines” since 1997. Her published books include Whence the Goddesses: A Source Book (1990) and Sacred Display: Divine and Magical Female Figures of Eurasia (2010). She has also edited Prehistoric Roots of Romanian and Southeast European Traditions (with Adrian Poruciuc and Joan Marler) (2010), Signs of Civilization: Neolithic Symbol Systems of Southeast Europe (with Joan Marler) (2004/2009), as well as many volumes of conference proceedings. She is the author of over 20 scholarly articles, the most recent of which is titled “The Ferocious and the Erotic: ‘Beautiful’ Medusa and the Neolithic Bird and Snake,” published in The Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion (2010). She reads Latin, Greek, Sanskrit, Hittite, Tocharian, old German dialects, Old Irish, Old Iranian, Old Church Slavic, French, Italian, Spanish, German, and Lithuanian, among other modern and ancient languages. 

Her current research includes a book chapter titled “Queen Meb and the Sovereignty of Ireland” for a three-volume Praeger Goddesses in World Culture series to be published in 2011; she is also finalizing a paper titled “The Danube Script and the Old European Goddess: The Intersection of Language and Religion,” which she presented at the Institute of Archaeomythology Conference on the Danube Script in Sibiu, Romania, in 2008. In addition, she is in the very early stages of working on a chapter for a book on the astronomical and mythological intersections of the European and Near Eastern love goddesses, which will trace the evolution of the figure of Venus throughout early historic texts as well as “Venus figures” in Paleolithic and Neolithic imagery.

She is particularly interested in the honoring of all possible facets of the female character—the erotic, the ferocious, the monstrous —although it is frequently a particular patriarchal culture which assigns monstrosity to a female figure such as the Greco-Roman Medusa, the Germanic Ran, and other frightening female figures. In patriarchal cultures, this monstrous aspect of the female divine is something which must be murdered, usually by a patriarchal “hero” such as Perseus. Her work stresses the importance of seeing all facets of what male-centered cultures have labeled a “feminine monster” and to look at the female figures through a non-biased rather than a male-centered lens.

SELECTED PUBLICATIONS

Whence the Goddesses: A Source Book. Pergamon Press, Athene Series, 1990. Reprinted by Teachers College Press, Columbia University, Athene Series, 1992.

Varia on the Indo-European Past: Papers in Memory of Marija Gimbutas (1997).

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