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Songs, Texts, Theories: Greek Lyric Poetry

CX272-30/CX372-30

What is Greek lyric poetry? What are its powers, its claims, its purposes? How does it sing or speak? What are its effects? Who are its most significant and celebrated practitioners, and how best should we appreciate their works?

What is distinctive about Greek lyric: as a form of cultural expression, as genre, literary form, a body of texts, a set of voices, as emotional content? How might we model its relations with other social and cultural aspects of archaic and classical Greece, such as religion, performance, politics, sexuality, sport?

How should we conceptualize it, in relation to broader categories such as song / rhythm / meter / music / literature / rhetoric / history?

How do we, should we, can we relate to its intensities of emotional expression, its modes of address, its uses of myth and imagery, its attitudes to materiality, its sense of its own time, and its contextualizations?

What, even, might we learn about Classics, as an idea, from thinking about Greek lyric?

The main focus of this module will be the close reading of the lyric poetry of Greece from c. 700–350BC, covering such luminous names as Sappho, Alcaeus, Anacreon, Ibycus, Simonides, Pindar, Bacchylides, and Timotheus, but the module will also involve sustained encounters with wider theoretical debates in the history of literature and criticism both within and beyond Classics.


This module will be available in 2018/19

Module Convenor: Dr. David Fearn