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From the asparas of Hindu myth to the swan maidens of European fairy tales, tales of flying women-some with wings, others with clouds, rainbows, floating scarves, or flying horses-reveal both fascination with and ambivalence about female power and sexuality. In Women Who Fly, Serinity Young examines the motif of flying women as it appears in a wide variety of cultures and historical periods, expressed in legends, myths, rituals, sacred narratives, and artistic productions. She covers a wide range of themes, including supernatural women, like the Valkyries, who transport men to immortality; winged goddesses like Iris and the Greek goddess Nike; figures of terror like the Furies, witches, and succubi; the relationship of marriage and freedom; the connections between women, death, and rebirth; dreams about flying and shamanistic journeys; airborne Christian mystics; and wayward women like Lilith and Morgan le Fay. Young also looks at the mythology surrounding real-life female aviators like Amelia Earhart and Hanna Reitsch. Throughout these examples of flying women, Young demonstrates that female power has been inextricably linked with female sexuality and that the desire to control it was and continues to be a pervasive theme in these stories. The relationship between sex and power is most vividly portrayed in the 12th-century Niebelungenlied, in which the proud warrior-queen Brunnhilde loses her great physical strength when she is tricked into losing her virginity. But even in the 20th century the same idea is reflected in the exploits of the comic book character Wonder Woman, who, posits Young, retains her physical strength only because her love for fellow aviator Steve Trevor goes unrequited. The first book to systematically chronicle the figure of the flying woman in myth, literature, and art, Women Who Fly sheds new light on the ways in which women have both influenced and been understood by society and religious traditions around the world.

Serinity Young (Research Associate, Department of Anthropology. American Museum of Natural History; Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Classical, Middle Eastern, and Asian Languages and Cultures, Research Associate, Department of Anthropology. American Museum of Natural History; Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Classical, Middle Eastern, and Asian Languages and Cultures, Queens C

Serinity Young is a research associate in the Department of Anthropology at New York's American Museum of Natural History. She is also Adjunct Assistant Professor of Classical, Middle Eastern, and Asian Languages and Cultures at Queens College.

Women Who Fly is a novel study likely to interest readers from diverse disciplinary backgrounds. Although this sort of broad-brush cross-cultural and trans-historical overview will always have its pitfalls, it broadens the mind with examples from a rich arrayof contexts and opens the reader up to new possibilities. A valuable source of comparisons, the book will hopefully inspire further, more focused and in-depth studies of women who fly. * Ethan Doyle White, Time and Mind * Young's cross-cultural, multi-period, multidisciplinary and comparative approach to the evidence for flying women successfully introduces disciplinary specialists to examples of the concept of airborne women within cultures or time periods that they probably would not usually investigate. It is also suitable for a general readership. The many examples of flying women examined in this book persuasively demonstrate that the trope of the aerial female, in various manifestations, is shared across religions and through time. * Caroline Tully, University of Melbourne, Reading Religion * The strength of Women Who Fly is its broad sweep. Young consults sources that span multiple disciplines[The book] is a good background resource for women's stud-ies projects, literary interpretations, and for an overview of historical representations of women who fly. Students and general readers will find it a baseline for deeper dives into religious and cultural symbols of women. * Nancy Lusignan Schultz, Nova Religio * [Young's] method is encyclopaedic, [ ... ], and in Women Who Fly she has marshalled a wonderful gallery of flyers - a kind of panangelium - from cultures far and wide. * Marina Warner, London Review of Books * The book is crammed full of stories about rebellious women who shunned gravity and convention by taking to the skies... The range and variety of material covered is impressive... An engaging and well-illustrated book. * Ann Kennedy Smith, The Times Literary Supplement * This is in many ways a joy of a book - certainly an unusual joy for an academic feminist book. Without ever resorting to the tedious or impenetrable jargon [...] it delivers a hard-hitting historical analysis in plain, but glowing English ... Every chapter of this book is an eye-opener... * Lynn Pickett, Magonia Review of Books * [Serinity Young is] a well-trained scholar with a strong interest in feminist takes on folklore and literature. I find the project itself to be quite fascinating and I would urge you to go ahead with the book. I appreciate the ambitious nature of the project, covering as it does myth, folktale, opera, and popular culture, not to mention actual female aviators. I do think the book sounds like it is well worth publishing and it ought to appeal to feminists and folklorists alike." * Alan Dundes, Anthropology and Folklore, University of California, Berkeley * The book is the only one I know on this theme, and it is a marvelous idea: flying women. The scholarship is sound, the organization clear and simple, and the writing lively and confident. I can't think of anything to add or change in any major way." * Wendy Doniger, History of Religion, University of Chicago *

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