Greek Texts and the Early Modern Stage

Monday 14 July 2014, University of York, UK

Keynote Speakers: Gordon Braden (University of Virginia), Yves Peyré (IRCL ­ Montpellier III)

Roundtable discussion: Fiona Macintosh (Oxford), Charles Martindale (York), Richard Rowland (York)

This colloquium will explore the impact of Greek texts on the drama of Shakespeare and his contemporaries. Although recent criticism has revitalised discussions of early modern engagement with Latin literature, there has been little attention to the way English playwrights responded to Greek writers. Yet Greek texts circulated at this time, in the original language as well as in translations and adaptations, and critics are beginning to explore their consequences for the period's literary production. Greek provoked strong responses for a number of reasons: its controversial associations with Erasmus, Protestantism, and heresy; the spectre of democratic governance; the rebirth of interest in Galenic medicine; the pervasive influence of Greek culture on Latin literature; and the identification of Greece with the origins of theatre. Excavating the influence of Greek texts in this period comes with a set of challenges that require new approaches to classical reception. The distinctive complications surrounding the transmission of Greek texts give a new role to history of the book in such work. The texts¹ simultaneous availability in original and mediated versions calls for new approaches to reading and intertextuality. The context of the early professional theatre, and therefore of viewers and readers lacking reliable familiarity with Greek texts, poses anew the question of the audience of classical reception.

Programme and details at
Co-organisers: Tania Demetriou (York) and Tanya Pollard (Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center, CUNY)