Jan 30th 2018

Why are sex and jewelry, particularly rings, so often connected? Why do rings continually appear in stories about marriage and adultery, love and betrayal, loss and recovery, identity and masquerade? What is the mythology that makes finger rings symbols of true (or, as the case may be, untrue) love?

Wendy Doniger, author of the book The Ring of Truth and Other Myths of Sex and Jewelry, will explore the cross-cultural mythology of sex and jewelry. The distribution of the mythology of sexual rings is impressive—from ancient India and Greece through the Arab world to Shakespeare, Marie Antoinette, Wagner, nineteenth-century novels, Hollywood, and the De Beers advertising campaign that gave us the expression, “A Diamond Is Forever.” The stories are linked by a common set of meanings, such as love symbolized by the circular and unbroken shape of the ring: infinite, constant, eternal—a meaning that the stories often prove tragically false.

While most of the rings in the stories originally belonged to men, or were given to women by men, Dr. Doniger shows that it is the women who are important in these stories, as they are the ones who put the jewelry to work in the plots.

After her talk, Dr. Doniger will sign copies of the book; The Ring of Truth and Other Myths of Sex and Jewelry will be available for purchase.

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