Viral Spiral: Multiple Shape-shifting from Ovid to Covid

The CCL Annual Lecture Series

We are delighted to announce the inaugural lecture in our Annual Lecture series:

Marina Warner

Viral Spiral: Multiple Shape-shifting from Ovid to Covid

A group of metamorphoses in myths and legends features gods and in between creatures, who are not quite divine and not quite mortal either,  who can change their shape multiple times. For example, Mestra, the daughter of Erisychthon, is given this gift by the gods when her father sells her, and she is able to elude the clients he panders her to.

Marina Warner will explore stories of multiple transformations in and out of different bodies, and reflect on their significance in relation to today’s concerns with fluid identities and interspecies contact and contagion.

19 January 2023, 6.15pm GMT (in person and online)

NB: The lecture has had to be rescheduled to 19 January 2023 due to the UCU national strike at universities on the original date of 24 November 2022. We apologise for any inconvenience.  Bookings already made remain valid. (Those who had booked for 24 November 2022 have been contacted by email. If you booked but did not receive an email, please check your spam folder.)

Attendance is free but BOOKING is required:

Book here to attend IN PERSON.

Book here to attend ONLINE.


Marina Warner writes fiction and cultural history. Her award-winning books explore myths and fairy tales; they include From the Beast to the Blonde (1994) and Stranger Magic: Charmed States & The Arabian Nights (2011). She has published five novels and three collections of short stories, including Fly Away Home (2014). Her most recent book, Inventory of a Life Mislaid (2021) is an ‘unreliable memoir’ about her childhood in Egypt where her father opened a bookshop in 1947. She contributes regularly to the New York Review of Books and the London Review of Books and to artist’s catalogues, for example for Paula Rego’s retrospective at Tate Britain (2021). She is Professor of English and Creative Writing at Birkbeck College, a Distinguished Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, and a Fellow of the British Academy.  In 2015, she was awarded the Holberg Prize in the Arts and Humanities, and in 2017 she was given a World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award. Since 2016, she has been working with the project in Palermo, Sicily, and is currently writing a book about the concept of Sanctuary. She lives in London.


If you are interested in this lecture, you will also be interested in the event series Sing in me, Muse: The Classical, the Critical, and the Creative, a series of talks, workshops, readings, discussions on the social, political and cultural relevance of the classics to our times.