The stories that have been told about women and their jewelry, from the earliest recorded history to contemporary journalism, reveal a number of deeply held assumptions. Though the storytellers were often women, the recurrent patterns of these tales point to male fears of women’s sexuality and uncertainty about the paternity of children.
The “Slut Assumption” – the myth that women get their jewelry by sleeping with men – pervades these tales, as do recurrent ancient narrative patterns. These narratives include the rehabilitation of cads through the use of jewelry, the clever wife who masquerades as another woman to seduce her own husband, and surprisingly durable modern manifestations like the myth (invented by De Beers) of the essential diamond engagement ring.
This class will explore the longevity of these powerful myths and offer explanations of how and why they endure.
This class is a collaboration with the Marty Center at the University of Chicago Divinity School.
Wendy Doniger was a full professor in the Divinity School at the University of Chicago from 1978 to 2018 and, since 1986, the Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions, now Emerita. She is the author of over forty books, most recently Winged Stallions and Wicked Mares: Horses in Indian Myth and History , An American Girl in India: Letters and Recollections, 1964-64  and After the War: The Last Books of the Mahabharata .
No required materials and no first reading assignment.
Cost and Registration
One session, $50 ($45 for Newberry members, seniors, and students). Learn about becoming a member.
To register multiple people for this class, please go through the course calendar in Learning Stream, our registration platform. When you select the course and register, you’ll be prompted to add another registrant.Register