Elinor Gadon

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Elinor W. Gadon
AwardsWomen's Caucus for Art Lifetime Achievement Award, 2006
Academic background
Alma materUniversity of Michigan, B.A. English, 1947; University of Massachusetts, Amherst M.A. History of Art, 1974; University of Chicago, Ph.D. Committee on the History of Culture, 1984
Academic work
Main interestsCultural history, Art history, Gender studies

Elinor W. Gadon (September 17, 1925 – May 8, 2018) is an American cultural historian,[1] Indologist,[2] art historian and author notable for her examination of women in myth and culture in history.[3]


Gadon has taught at several educational institutions, including the Harvard Divinity School and Tufts University, where she was an associate scholar in the Women's Leadership Program. At the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, she developed and directed a course in women's spirituality.[4] In 2006, she became a resident scholar at Brandeis University's Women's Studies Research Center Scholars Program in Waltham, Massachusetts.[5]

Gadon's research has focused on the analysis of myth and imagery within their specific cultural contexts and how they affect issues of gender.[5] In part due to her major publication, The Once and Future Goddess,[6] she has been compared to other "scholars of the goddess" such as Marija Gimbutas and others associated with the Goddess movement.[7]

Indian art history has been a particular area of interest for Gadon.[8]


Whether they are practicing their spirituality alone, in groups, or in their synagogues or churches of origin, women of the movement are focusing on exploring the sacredness of the female body, sexuality, and women's experience.

— Elinor Gadon[4]

Gadon is a proponent of female spirituality, and argued that western-oriented religions have a dearth of female-oriented imagery and symbolism, in contrast to Eastern religions such as Hinduism.[9]

Women in particular feel that within organized religion, there isn't any honor of what they hold sacred: the life process, the birth of their children, their sexual experiences.

— Elinor Gadon, 2003[10]

Selected publications[edit]

  • — (1989). The Once and Future Goddess: A Symbol for Our Time. New York: Harper & Row. ISBN 978-0062503466.
  • — (Summer 2003). "Picasso and the Minotaur". India International Centre Quarterly. 30 (1): 20–29. JSTOR 23005839.
  • Shulamit Reinharz; Elinor W. Gadon (2007). Tiger by the Tail!: Women Artists of India Transforming Culture. Waltham, MA: Brandeis University. ISBN 9780979809408.



  1. ^ Beverly Beyette (June 30, 1999). "Wise Women Speak Up on Being Successful, Savvy and 70 Years Old". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 1, 2014. ...Scholar Elinor Gadon, a cultural historian with an interest in women's spirituality...
    - "Cultural historian Elinor Gadon". MSN TV listings. November 14, 1999. Retrieved August 1, 2014.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ Jenett, Dianne (July 4, 2012). "Pongala Ritual at Attukal Temple in Kerala, India". Anthropology in China. Archived from the original on August 10, 2014. Retrieved August 1, 2014. ...Elinor Gadon, an Indologist and my academic advisor, is well versed and well traveled in India
    - Susan Visvanathan (April 17, 2005). "Tradition and modernity". The Hindu. Retrieved August 1, 2014. Elinor Gadon, the author of that excellent collation of art materials and texts called The Once and Future Goddess, was speaking at the launch of the project....
  3. ^ "Elinor W. Gadon: The Once and Future Goddess: A Symbol of Our Time (book review)". Environmental Ethics. Max Oelschlaeger. 13 (3): 275–280. Fall 1991. doi:10.5840/enviroethics19911339. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
    - Mari P. Ziolkowski (2010). Fierce Shakti, Fierce Love. p. 63. ISBN 9780557888016. Retrieved July 12, 2014. As patriarchal forces overturned the goddess cultures, female power became dangerous, even evil...
    - Jane Caputi (1993). Gossips, Gorgons and Crones: The Fates of the Earth. p. 337. ISBN 9781879181052. Retrieved July 12, 2014. Hindu Shaktu tradition, art historian Elinor Gadon informs us....
    - "Ph.D.'s Awarded 1979 – 2010". University of Chicago. Archived from the original on July 14, 2014. Retrieved July 12, 2014. An Inconographical Analysis of the Early Krsnabhakti in Gujurat Balagopalastuti, Winter 1984
    - Gary Pacernick (2001). Meaning & Memory: Interviews with Fourteen Jewish Poets. p. 10. ISBN 9780814208793. Retrieved July 12, 2014. ..Elinor Gadon calls 'the renewed experience of God the mother'....
    - Laurence Coupe (1997). Myth. Routledge. p. 175. ISBN 9781134107773. Retrieved July 12, 2014. Thus, Elinor W. Gadon views the myth of Theseus and the minotaur as a story justifying the destruction of Minoan matriarchy and goddess worship...
    - Victoria Pynchon (January 9, 2012). "Femininity, Feminism and the Either/Or Woman: Part 2". Forbes. Retrieved July 12, 2014. ...Elinor Gadon's spectacular treatise The Once and Future Goddess ... synthesizes archeological and anthropological research ... to track the evolution of the feminine identity over the last 12,000 years...
    - Valerie Hadden (book reviewer), The Examiner, June 27, 2009. Retrieved July 12, 2014. "The book mixes facts, quotes and stories, and the opinions of the author. The facts are interesting but tend toward dry. Obviously, Ms. Gadon has made a huge effort to get every historical reference scrupulously correct."
  4. ^ a b Marguerite Rigoglioso. "Awakening to the Godess". The Aisling Magazine. Retrieved August 1, 2014. ...says Elinor Gadon, academic director of the doctoral program in women's spirituality at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco...
  5. ^ a b "Scholars Program: Elinor W. Gadon". Brandeis University. Retrieved August 6, 2014.
  6. ^ Estella Lauter (Spring–Summer 1991). "Lady of the Beasts: Ancient Images of the Goddess and Her Sacred Animals by Buffie Johnson; The Once and Future Goddess: A Symbol for Our Time by Elinor W. Gadon". Woman's Art Journal. 12 (1): 43–45. doi:10.2307/1358190. JSTOR 1358190.
  7. ^ Mary Zeiss Stange (Spring–Summer 1993). "The Once and Future Heroine: Paleolithic Goddesses and Popular Imagination". Women's Studies Quarterly. 21 (1/2): 55–66. JSTOR 40003873.
  8. ^ a b "2006 National Lifetime Achievement Awards" (PDF). Women's Caucus for Art. pp. 9–12. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 12, 2013. Retrieved August 6, 2014.
  9. ^ "Images of Women in Art, Religion". Toledo Blade. October 16, 1994. Retrieved August 3, 2014. ..Gadon... frustrated by a lack of imagery that resonated with her ideal of womanhood...
  10. ^ Don Aucoin, "Something Sexy About Stonehenge", The Boston Globe, July 20, 2003, reprinted in The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Retrieved August 1, 2014.

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