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MemberEric S. Hood

Dr. Eric S. Hood specialize in cultural theory and British Romanticism, particularly British epic poetry in the 18th and 19th century. He is a Founding Editor at the Digital Mitford and a Core Faculty Member in the Digital Humanities at Michigan State University, where he teaches first-year writing, web authoring, and courses in the Digital Humanities as well as in the Integrated Arts and Humanities.

MemberKate Driscoll

…Refereed Journal Articles: forthcoming “‘La donna di poche parole’ from Page to Stage: Envoicing Allure in Epic Poetry and Early Opera.” The Italianist 41, no. 1 (February 2021); under review “Inclined to Belong: Nearness and Nostos in the Tones of Collective Grief, from Homer to Monteverdi.”
 
Book Chapters: forthcoming “Harmony as Embassy: Refugee Statecraft and Regal Stagecraft in Gerusalemme liberata and Baroqu…

2020-21 Postdoctoral Fellow at ​​Freie Universität Berlin, Cluster of Excellence “Temporal Communities: Doing Literature in a Global Perspective,” Project: “Opera without Borders: The Multicultural Libretto in the Age of Nations” 2020-21 Ahmanson Research Fellow for the Study of Medieval and Renaissance Books and Manuscripts at UCLA, Project on pilgrimage guides and geopolitical representations of the eastern Mediterranean in Italian epic poetry Research interests: early modern literature and culture (specializing in Italy); the relationship between art and diplomacy; women’s and gender studies; opera and performance studies; cultural transmission, translation, and transnationalism

MemberZachary Margulies

I am a doctoral candidate at New York University, studying the Hebrew Bible and Ancient Near East under the advisement of Mark S. Smith. My dissertation is a study of the poetic laments over fallen warriors in the Homeric Epic tradition and the Hebrew Bible. Dissertation “David, Achilles, and the Women’s Laments: Lamentation over the Fallen Warrior in the Hebrew Bible and Homeric Epics” Interests Hebrew Bible, Biblical Poetry, Early/Archaic Greek Poetry, Oral Poetics, Eastern Mediterranean Cross-cultural Interaction, Levantine Archaeology

MemberFelipe Valencia

My research and teaching focus on the literature and intellectual history of early modern Spain, with an emphasis on poetry, theory of the lyric, melancholy, and sexual violence, and a secondary interest in colonial Latin America. My work also draws from cultural studies and critical theory. I am interested in the specifically early modern ways in which the women and men of the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Hispanic world thought of literature—in the way they forged poetics with materials and interdisciplinary sensitivities distinct from our own. My published work has dealt with sixteenth-century Spanish lyric and epic poetry, sixteenth-century political tragedy, pastoral, the early works of Miguel de Cervantes, and the poetry of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz.   My forthcoming first book, The Melancholy Void: Lyric and Masculinity in the Age of Góngora (University of Nebraska Press, 2021) contends that at the turn of the seventeenth century, partly as a response to the rising prestige and commercial success of epic, partly enabled by the idea of melancholy—which had gained great importance throughout Europe during the sixteenth century when it came to think about the physical, ethical, social, and political stakes of creativity—several Spanish poets conceived lyric as a melancholy and masculinist discourse that sings of and perpetrates symbolic violence against the female beloved. The Melancholy Void examines the centrality of gender violence and anxieties about feminization in connection with lyric utterance in influential texts such as La Araucana (1569-1590) by Alonso de Ercilla, Algunas obras (1582) by Fernando de Herrera, and the Fábula de Polifemo y Galatea (1612) and the Soledades (1613-1614) by Luis de Góngora, but also in a lesser-known collection of lyric such as Versos (1612) by Juan de Arguijo, and the pastoral romance La Galatea (1585), the first printed work by Miguel de Cervantes. Through the study of these texts, which offer a wide sampling of styles, themes, and traditions, The Melancholy Void addresses four problems in the scholarship of early modern Spanish poetry: what was the response to and contribution from Spanish poetry to the fledgling theory of the lyric in late sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century Europe, and what consequences did this turn to theory have for Spanish lyric? How did the rise of Spanish epic at that time affect Spanish lyric? What was the impact on Spanish poetry of the heightened interest in melancholy across Europe at the turn of the seventeenth century, so evident in works from other genres, for instance Don Quijote and El médico de su honra? And last, but not least, what was the role of gender violence and the construction of masculinity in key texts of the Spanish poetic tradition, especially in love poetry? Born in Colombia of Colombian parents, I also grew up in Spain and the United States. I am a citizen of all three countries and an immigrant above all.

MemberDennis Looney

Since 2014, I have served as director of the Office of Programs and director of the Association of Departments of Foreign Languages at MLA. For the Office of Programs I oversee projects relating to the profession, such as departmental reviews, the ongoing examination of faculty rights and responsibilities, monitoring educational and curricular changes, and the development of statements of best practices. As director of ADFL, I oversee the Language Consultancy Service, the MLA Language Map, the language enrollment database, survey, and report, and other projects focused on languages other than English. From 1986 to 2013, I taught Italian at the University of Pittsburgh, with secondary appointments in classics and philosophy. I was chair of the Department of French and Italian for eleven years and assistant dean of the humanities for three years at Pitt. Publications include Compromising the Classics: Romance Epic Narrative in the Italian Renaissance (1996), which received honorable mention in the 1996–97 joint Howard R. Marraro Prize and Scaglione Award in Italian Studies from the MLA, and Freedom Readers: The African American Reception of Dante Alighieri and the Divine Comedy (2011), which received the American Association of Italian Studies Book Prize (general category) in 2011. With D. Mark Possanza, I am co-editor and translator of Ludovico Ariosto’s Latin Poetry, I Tatti Renaissance Library, Harvard University Press (2018). Some key research interests: Renaissance Studies; comparative literature; reception of the classical tradition; vernacular classicism; history of the book; Italian; Latin; Greek; Medievalisms; Dante; Divine Comedy; Matteo Maria Boiardo; Ludovico Ariosto; Torquato Tasso; romance/epic; Neo-Latin poetry; Herodotus.  

MemberValerie Hannon Smitherman

Performing Relationships:  Choreia, Qasida, and Community — A Cross-Cultural Perspective   The communal culture of classical Greece was fundamentally musical.  This, as many have noted, harkens back to a pre-literate society, where song and oral formulae were aids to composition, memory, and cultural preservation.  Yet, even after the Greeks developed writing, musical expression retained pride of place. Thus the Athenian confidently asserts: οὐκοῦν ὁ μὲν ἀπαίδευτος ἀχόρευτος ἡμῖν ἔσται, τὸν δὲ πεπαιδευμένον ἱκανῶς κεχορευκότα θετέον; (Plat. Laws 654a-b).   This ‘culture of musical expression’ is far more than a source of entertainment, or a basis for education (as Plato would have it).  Indeed, they are fundamentally connected to the roots of the community itself, as Damon observes in the Republic: οὐδαμοῦ γὰρ κινοῦνται μουσικῆς τρόποι ἄνευ πολιτικῶν νόμων τῶν μεγίστων  (5.424c) Not only does the medium itself represent social cohesion — paradoxically, it is also frequently used to depict stasis and social isolation.  Indeed, the very act of performing a choral song expresses and confirms the network of reciprocal social relationships by and through which communities are formed, either directly or meta-poetically.  So we see Odysseus reduced to tears by Demodocus’ song, utterly isolated in his grief, even as he is an honored guest among the Phaeacians (Od. 8.521-31) and we also see Achilles sing the tales of heroes to Patroclus, although anger isolates him from the rest of his comrades (Il. 9.189-91).   The social significance of musical expression extends beyond the creation and performance of song to the political realm, as we see in Hesiod, where the wise king is one who, through the blessing of the Muses, is able to deploy language skillfully, soothing high spirits and maintaining social order (Thg. 80-92;93-103).  The successful king, then, must also be a successful performer.   When we turn our gaze to the Arabian desert, we find that Nabati poetry, the oral poetry of the Bedouin, has served a strikingly similar function within that culture.  Indeed, the Arabs themselves consider poetry to be the essence of their language and the poetry of the desert to express the fundamental social and political structures of their society: “The people of pre-modern Arabia were ruled by eloquent persuasion rather than by outright force; therefore, the gift of poetry constituted an essential qualification for effective leadership” (Sowayan 1985: 67).   And the fundamental quality of that poetry is that it is a musical performance: “When one hears a new poem one may ask ‘wiššū h-aṭ-targ’ (‘What is this rhythm?’) or ‘wišlōn šēlitah?’ (‘How is it sung?’)”  (Sowayan 1985:158).   Nabati poetry ranges in scope from brief, direct love-poems composed for the most intimate of audiences to accounts of tribal histories and versified negotiations between rival parties.  It is not epic poetry and, yet, the nature and function of its role in Arab society, particularly that of the Najd, certainly calls the Homeric poems to mind — these are also performances outside of historical time, marked by a unique dialect, memorializing communal bonds and individual losses, all in song.   My aim, without supposing that these works are genetically related in any sense, is to compare the nature and function of these traditions, and to consider the wider role of poetry, music, and expressions of community in East and West.  It is my earnest hope that such an endeavor will both better our understanding of the ancient world we study and an often misunderstood part of the modern world we share.   Sowayan, S. A., (1985), Nabati Poetry: The Oral Poetry of Arabia (Berkeley: University of California Press). ___________________________________________________________ About me:  Classicist, philologist, eternal student of Indo-European, endlessly entertained by etymologies. Things I like: strong tea, Oum Kalthoum, re-performances of ancient drama and music Things I dislike: Fitting into boxes, filling out boxes, checking off boxes, packing boxes. Random FAQs: Where are you?  I’m nomadic, so it depends. Where do you work?  See above. Do you speak Arabic?  Not as well as I should, but I’m working on it. How do you propose to do this work without a degree in Arabic?  Very carefully.  I think my philological training has prepared me fairly well for work like this, plus, I have the support of very kind, learned colleagues helping me learn Arabic and come to grips with that textual tradition. There isn’t a lot here, where can I find out more?  Follow me on Twitter @DrVHSmitherman. Cheers!  

MemberThomas J. Nelson

I am a Research Fellow in Classics at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. My research focuses on the poetics and politics of Greek poetry from the archaic period to the Hellenistic world. I’m currently writing a book on the ‘pre-Alexandrian footnote’ and other markers of intertextuality in archaic and classical Greek literature. I explore how the earliest known Greek poets self-consciously acknowledged the familiarity of their subject matter and signalled their references to tradition – placing markers in their works for alert audiences to recognise. This kind of signposting is often considered the preserve of later literary cultures, closely linked with the development of libraries, literacy and writing. But I argue that these same devices were already deeply engrained in our earliest oral archaic Greek poetry. My other major research interest lies in the field of Hellenistic poetry, where I’m especially interested in the fragments and traces of poetic traditions beyond Ptolemaic Alexandria. In particular, I’m currently studying Attalid and Seleucid poetic traditions, as well as Hellenistic epic fragments more generally. As a student, I completed my PhD at Trinity College, Cambridge, supervised by Professor Richard Hunter; before that, I studied at the University of Oxford, completing both my BA and MSt at University College. I’ve co-organised a number of conferences, including ‘Hellenistic Poetry Beyond Callimachean Aesthetics’ (September 2016), the Cambridge AHRC DTP’s Conference on Time and Temporality (September 2016), and the Cambridge Laurence Seminar on Collaboration and Ancient Literature (June 2021). For the 2019 CA/FIEC conference, I also organised a panel entitled ‘Poetics Between Greece and the Near East’ (July 2019). Teaching materials for my undergraduates is available at http://www.thomas-j-nelson.co.uk/teaching.html. I’m very open to any kind of collaborative research and happy to be contacted about any ideas for collaboration, however preliminary.

MemberSheshalatha Reddy

Sheshalatha Reddy is an Associate Professor at Howard University where she teaches colonial and postcolonial British and Anglophone literature. She has published articles in Victorian Literature and Culture and the Journal of Commonwealth Literature and edited an anthology entitled Mapping the Nation: An Anthology of Indian Poetry in English, 1870-1920 (2012). Her recent book, British Empire and the Literature of Rebellion: Revolting Bodies, Laboring Subjects (2017) is a a comparative study of the discourses surrounding three roughly mid-nineteenth century rebellions: the Sepoy Rebellion of 1857 in India, the Morant Bay Rebellion of 1865 in Jamaica, and the Fenian Rebellion of 1867 in Ireland. Following the industrial capitalist revolution in England, British imperial capitalism sought to expand its laboring force by attempting to transfigure the oppressed colonized worker into a laboring subject (one whose identity would be created and limited by labor) through the deployment of biopolitics, the disciplinary techniques of states and corporations to manage and regulate populations. Revolting Bodies, Laboring Subjects argues that the supposedly unsuccessful rebellions in India, Jamaica and Ireland can be read as flashpoints in imperial labor history: a moment when the colonized reacted against early attempts by British imperial capitalism to create a new pool of labor for capitalist accumulation in the colonies. These rebellions thus marked a shift in the driving impetus behind revolt against British authority as the colonized now began to resist a new regime of biopower that attempted not merely to exploit them as workers, but to transform them into urban and rural laboring subjects, sources of capitalist accumulation. This transformation would always remain incomplete since it was always resisted to varying degrees by the colonized.