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.
My research primarily focuses on performances and texts responding to ancient tragedy and epic, the traditional arts in modern British theatre-making, and contemporary storytelling practices.
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 Homer” Interests Hebrew Bible, Biblical Poetry, Early/Archaic Greek Poetry, Oral Poetics, Eastern Mediterranean Cross-cultural Interaction, Levantine Archaeology
…n 85: 117–119.
2011 A. Sihler, New comparative grammar of Greek and Latin (Oxford 2008), Classical Bulletin 85: 178–183.
2010 S. Reece, Homer’s winged words: The evolution of early Greek epic diction in the light of oral theory (Leiden 2009), Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2010.03.03.
2009 P. Poccetti, ed. Les prénoms de l’italie antique (Rome 2008), Bryn Mawr Classical …
…nd Ptolemaic-Seleucid Rivalry”, 14th Groningen Workshop on Hellenistic Poetry: Women and Power in Hellenistic Poetry, Groningen, Netherlands, 21–23 Aug.
2019: “Intertextual Agones in Archaic Greek Epic: Penelope vs. the Catalogue of Women”, CA / FIEC Conference 2019, London, 4–8 Jul.
2019: “Sweet and Shrill Songbirds: The Sounds of Lament in Graeco-Roman Elegy”, ‘Song, Lament…
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 2020). 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.
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!
Anna-Maria Sichani (Άννα-Μαρία Σιχάνη) is a Modern Greek literary scholar and a Digital Humanist. Anna-Maria is currently an Early Stage Researcher and Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow affiliated with the Digital Scholarly Editing Initial Training Network (DiXiT) (EU-FP7), based at Huygens ING and a PhD Research Fellow at King’s Digital Lab. Her PhD research – currently in the final stages at the University of Ioannina (Greece) – focuses on how changes on textual mediality and communication technologies informed while radicalised editorial practices and literary activities in the Modern Greek literary field during the Sixties. She holds a BA and a MPhil in Modern Greek Philology from the University of Athens (Greece), then followed by a MA in Digital Humanities in UCL, with a dissertation on literary drafts and computational technologies. Anna-Maria’s research interests, work experience and expertise intersect the changing materialities of literary culture, textual scholarship and scholarly communication with a particular focus on their related practices, politics and economics. She has collaborated with a number of Digital Humanities projects (Transcribe Bentham, DARIAH etc) and her skills include modelling, encoding and digital publication of textual materials, data architecture and analysis.
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.
Reinier studied history at Leiden University. He has a master’s degree (specialist subject: reception of antiquity) and took part in the Crayenborgh honours class 2003.