Problematics of Culture and Theory

Πέμ, 08/12/2016

On Wednesday, 14 December 2016, Simos Zenios (PhD candidate, Department of Comparative Literature, Harvard University, US) will give a talk entitled:

Romantic Hellenism and Violence: The Case of P. B. Shelley

The talk will take place in Room 308 (upstairs) at 19:15.



This talk proposes a reading of P. B. Shelley’s lyrical drama Hellas as a critical encounter with early nineteenth-century philhellenic discourse. This reading challenges, therefore, the still prevalent understanding of Shelley as an archetypal idealizing philhellenist. By reading Hellasin the context of Shelley’s manifold engagements with classical and modern Greece and by examining the subversive deployment of the “westering” theme in the lyrical parts of the work, I argue: 1) that Shelley draws attention to the appropriation of Hellenism by hegemonic political and cultural discourses of the period and to its entanglement with imperial politics; 2) that the chorus’s gradual recognition of the historical situatedness of its discourse simultaneously resists its wholesale subsumption under Eurocentric universalism and retains a utopian, future-oriented Hellenism as a guide for radical politics. 


Simos Zenios is a PhD candidate at the Department of Comparative Literature, at Harvard University. He is currently completing his dissertation “ ‘Words Which Were Weapons:’Literature and Political Violence in the Hellenic Nineteenth Century.” He holds a BA in Greek Philology (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, 2004) and an M.Sc. at General and Comparative Literature (University of Edinburgh, 2007). He was most recently the M. Alison Frantz Fellow at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens (2015-16).

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