Modern Greek Literature and Culture performs transhistorical and cross-disciplinary explorations of aspects of Greek literature, societies, politics, and culture from the twelfth century to postmodernity. Presentations, which vary in theoretical approach, situate Modern Greek studies within comparative and transcultural contexts: ancient and medieval Greek, Western, Balkan, and Mediterranean cultures.

Upcoming Events

Artemis Leontis, University of Michigan
Literary Translation and Politics in Moments of Greek Crisis
Wednesday, March 29, 2017 - 5:00pm
Room 335, Boylston Hall


One of the first books of Modern Greek poetry to appear in English in the US is the Akritan Songs (1944), the translation of Angelos Sikelianos’s Akritika (1941–1942) published in New York on the eve of the Cold War. A book about liminality that circulated illegally in 100 hand-written copies in German-occupied Athens during the Great Famine, the Akritika changed media and crossed geopolitical borders several times to appear in English, self-published with a card-stock cover as a kind of political tract. Before appearing in New York, it went from a hand-copied manuscript with beautiful woodcut illustrations to a Photostat copy to a copy of that Photostat copy. Additionally, it clandestinely crossed several European borders, two major bodies of water, three continents, and the hands of diplomats in three capital cities: Geneva, Cairo, and Washington. In the process, it acquired semiotic force as a desirable underground object that was maneuvering its way “from slavery to freedom,” in the words of George Seferis, the agent who secretly sent the Photostat from the Cairo Greek Government to Eva Palmer Sikelianos, first wife of Angelos, who was living in the US at the time. Adding another layer of complexity was the secretive stance, for different reasons, of both Seferis and Eva Sikelianos. As the object moved through space to free itself from the restrictive forces of the Nazi occupation late in the war, when the priorities of the Allies were shifting and alliances were breaking down, it took on marks of the transition from a document of resistance to a thing caught in the subterfuge and maneuvering that anticipated the Greek Civil War.

Building on original research in the archives of Eva Palmer Sikelianos and George Seferis, the paper takes a translation studies approach to reconstruct the story of the US publication and consider the intersection of political forces and the translation of Modern Greek texts at liminal moments, from the Cold War to the dictatorship of 1967-1974 to the present crisis.

Past Events 2016 - 17

Spiros Pollalis, Harvard Graduate School of Design
Sustainable Planning: Following Doxiadis's Legacy
Anastasia Karakasidou, Wellesley College
Interrogating Humanity: Refugee Encounters in Lesbos, Greece
Panagiotis Liaropoulos, Berklee College of Music
Greek Art Music and Song in the 20th Century: The Music of Manos Hadjidakis
George Syrimis, Yale University
The End of an Era? Religious Fanaticism and the Fourth Century A.D. in the Poetry of C. P. Cavafy

Past Events 2015 - 16

Stathis Kalyvas, Yale University
Reflections on the Greek Crisis, the Eurozone, and the European Integration
Dimitris Keridis, Panteion University
The Battle for Greece: Lessons Learned (for Greece, Europe and Beyond)
Simos Zeniou, Harvard University
Great Voice, Terrifying Voice: Political Reason and Lyric Voice in Greek Revolutionary Poetry
Anastasia Natsina, University of Crete
Different Natures: Growing Up in the Countryside of the Greek Bildungsroman
Gazi Kapllani, Wellesley College
"Ithaca gave you the marvelous journey": Cavafy through the Eyes of an Immigrant of the World
Vangelis Calotychos, Brown University
The Games People Play: Greek "Weird Wave" Film and the Economic Debt Crisis
Loukas Tsoukalis, University of Athens and Harvard Kennedy School
Greece’s Never Ending Crisis: Can We See Light at the End of the Tunnel?

Past Events 2014 - 15

Et in Arcadia Ego: Gregory Markopoulos and the American Avant-garde Cinema
Yannis Evrigenis, Tufts University
Context and Canon: The Case of Hobbes's Aristotle
Maria Kaliambou, Yale University
The Book Culture of Greek Americans
Nikos Panou, Stony Brook University
Lucian in Phanar: Nikolaos Mavrokordatos' Dialogic Imagination
Kostas Lavdas, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University
A Juncture of Stateness: Political Challenges and the Eurocrisis in Southern Europe
Nikos Passas, Northeastern University & International Anti-Corruption Academy, Vienna
Corruption and Anti-Corruption in Greece: Lessons Learned from the Global Community and the Need for a Strategic Approach
Robert Pinsky, Boston University
Robert Pinsky on C. P. Cavafy
Kostas Vergopoulos, University of Paris VIII
The Debt Crisis in Europe and the Culture of Economic Politics: Is Economics a Moral Science?

Past Events 2013 - 14

Jacques Bouchard, University of Montreal & Academy of Arts, Humanities, and Sciences of Canada
Je est un autre: Identity and Otherness in the Poetry of C. P. Cavafy
Calliopi Dourou, Harvard University
Between Byzantium and Modern Greece: Recapturing the Legacy of Homer in Nikolaos Loukanes’ 1526 "Iliad"
Maria Iliou, Screenwriter & Director
Alexander Kitroeff, Historical Consultant
Charles Stang, Harvard University
Eros and Apostasy: C.P. Cavafy and the Emperor Julian
Andreas Kalyvas, The New School
Between the Instituting and the Instituted: Castoriadis' Radical Theory of Democracy
Simos Zeniou, Harvard University
"The Poet’s Extreme Limit": Blakes’s Prophetic Poetics, Zissimos Lorentzatos, and the Cultural Politics of Late Greek Modernism
David Roessel, Stockton University
Happiness in a Greek Way: Reconsidering Durrell on Corfu, Rhodes, and Cyprus
Vladimir Boskovic, Harvard University
Metaphysical is Political: Plotinus in Ungaretti, Camus, and Elytis
Argyro Nicolaou, Harvard University
Ironizing the Empire: Literary Responses to Durrell’s Bitter Lemons
Nicos Christodoulakis, Athens University of Economics and Business & London School of Economics
Greece and the Eurozone: Risks and Challenges
"What These Ithacas Mean": Reading Cavafy in Different Languages - A Celebration of the End of the "Cavafy Year"

Past Events 2012 - 13

Michail Psalidopoulos, Fletcher School, Tufts University
"Sovereign Debt Crises in Greece: 19th Century to the Present”
Erato Paris, International Center for Hellenic Research, Nice, France
"Byzantium after Byzantium"
Marc Shell, Harvard University
Petros Efthymiou, Harvard University
"Can the Eurozone Crisis Be Solved without the Involvement of the United States?"

Past Events 2011 - 12

Rika Lesser; Ursula Lindqvist, Harvard University; Vasilis Papageorgiou, Linnaeus University; Judith Ryan, Harvard University
"Celebrating this Year's Nobel Prize in Literature: Tranströmer across Languages"
Maria Tatar, Harvard University
"'Disturbing the Airwaves': Writing about Greece under Nazi Occupation"
Chris LIvanos, University of Wisconsin
"Amazons, Dragons, and Masculinity: Policing the Borders of Nature and Gender in *Digenes Akrites*"
Spiro N. Pollalis
“The Development of the site of the Former Athens Airport: A Spark for Igniting the Greek Economy”
Dimitris Sotiropoulos, Higher Technological Institute of Kalamata
"The Greek Military Junta of 1967–1974: Old Insights and New Questions"

Past Events 2010 - 11

Constantine Michaelides, Washington University, St. Louis
"Formal and Vernacular Architecture in the Aegean Archipelago: Stuart and Revett, Thomas Hope and Alexandros Papadiamantis"
Teresa Shawcross, Amherst and Mt. Holyoke Colleges
"'Listen, all of you, both Franks and Romans': The Narrator in the Chronicle of Morea"
Olga Taxidou, Edinburgh University
"Hellenism, Primitivism and Modernist Performance"