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These are the Special Subject options available in 2022-23. These are indicative of the course offerings for the sub-faculty, so applicants should note that not all options will run in all years, and some course content might change. 


Story-Telling in Byzantium (Hilary Term)

Convenor: Professor Marc Lauxtermann

People in the middle ages loved telling each other stories. Popular tales include the Alexander Romance, the Life of Aesop, Joseph and Aseneth, Digenis Akritis, the numerous saints’ lives, the memoirs of Kekaumenos, and oriental tales, such as Stephanitis and Ichnilatis, Syntipas, and Barlaam and Joasaph. However, all these stories have come down to us as texts, transmitted in manuscript copies; there are obviously no recordings of oral performances. Can we reconstruct the oral settings? How are the narratives structured? What can we say about their audiences?


The Greeks of Venice (Hilary Term)

Convenor: Professor Marc Lauxtermann

The Greek community in Venice played a significant role in the cultural life of the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries. Venice was a staple market for merchandise from and to the Levant; young Greeks were sent to nearby Padua for their education; and books were printed in Venice and circulated in the Greek-speaking world. The first language debate takes place in the mid-16th century between Nikolaos Sophianos and Pachomios Roussanos; the Venetian printers develop a standardised form of Greek long before the creation of SMG; the first bestsellers in vernacular Greek begin to appear: Kartanos, Anthos Chariton, Damaskinos Stouditis, etc. The first dictionary of vernacular Greek appears in 1527; the first grammar of vernacular Greek is written in the 1540s. Possible topics for discussion would include the formation of a diasporic identity; the creation of a new koine; the production of the earliest prints; and the trade with the Levant.


The Remembrance of National History (Hilary Term)

Convenors: Kostas Skordyles

What does it mean to remember events that one never experienced? Why is the fall of Constantinople or the Asia Minor Disaster still considered traumatic by Greeks today? Why the name Macedonia continues to stir up strong affective reactions in contemporary Greece and beyond? What determines how national history is constructed and commemorated? In this seminar  the analysis of mourning and loss, individual and collective memory, trauma and monumentality  is combined in the light of a variety of theoretical approaches with a close reading of important moments in Greek history. The work of M. Halbwachs, P. Nora, P. Connerton, A. Erll, J. Assmann, B. Anderson, M. Hirsch, E. Hobsbawm, P. Ricoeur and others informs readings of a variety of cultural texts across the 20th century and ranging across different media: including testimonial literature on Asia Minor (from Doukas and Venezis to D. Papamarkos), performances and celebrations during the military dictatorship of 1967-74, films and Greek graphic novels. 


Translation and Adaptation: Texts, Histories, Practices (Michaelmas Term or Hilary Term)

Convenor: Kostas Skordyles

The transference of literary works into another language is increasingly seen as a creative process, blurring the boundaries between translation and adaptation. Translation is often thought of not as a fixed concept but as forming a ‘changing’ textuality, whose boundaries are historically set by discursive practices and translational norms. In this seminar, students will be guided through key concepts in translation studies and various types of considerations that need to be taken into account in the production and analysis of literary translations. The theoretical work of L. Venuti, E. Gentzler, H. Vermeer, G. Toury, I. Even-Zohar and others will provide the framework for a close reading of a number of texts and their translations/adaptations into/from Greek. We will start from obvious examples (from the multiple translations of Cavafy into English, Kazantzakis’s various editions and translations and the famous translations of T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” into Greek by Seferis, Papatzonis and others, to Jenny Mastoraki’s Greek translations of The Catcher in the Rye or Vassilis Alexakis self-translations between French and Greek). But the students are expected, based on the theoretical and critical literature discussed, to search for new examples and organize presentations and essays on specific case studies.


Modern Greek Literature in Comparative Frames (Michaelmas Term or Hilary Term)

Convenor: Dr Foteini Dimirouli

This Special Subject aims to encourage the study of 19th and 20th century Greek literature and culture in a comparative and world literature framework. We will start from the discussion of obvious and well-known case studies (Greek Romanticism and its European counterparts; naturalism and the Greek ηθογραφία; Surrealism in Greece; Greek and other modernisms; European aestheticism and Cavafy; the Greek dictatorship and the global ‘60s; ‘Sung Poetry’ in Europe and the case of the Greek Melopoiemene Poiese; postmodernism in Greece; the reception of Greek literature outside Greece in different historical moments).

Students will be asked to contribute their own examples and develop their own comparative perspectives, starting from specific genres, themes, or authors/artists, and moving on to explore movements, parallels, intertextual affinities, creative engagements and the dynamics of reading different texts and contexts together.