2014 PIIRS Global Seminars
A Land of Light and Shadows: Modern Greek Literature and Photography
Athens, Greece, June 16 - July 25, 2014
"A Land of Light and Shadows: Modern Greek Literature and Photography," will be held in Athens, Greece, from June 16 – July 25, 2014. The course is taught by Eduardo Cadava, professor of English.
Since its advent in the19th century, photography has been a privileged figure in literature's efforts to reflect upon its own modes of representation. This seminar will trace the history of the rapport between literature and photography by looking closely at a number of literary and theoretical texts that differently address questions central to both literature and photography: the nature of representation, reproduction, memory, history, perception, and knowledge.Beginning with texts by Nadar and Charles Baudelaire, and with Jacques Derrida’s beautiful meditation on Jean-François Bonhomme’s photographs of Athens, the seminar will attempt to delineate this constellation of questions and then, using this set of questions as a kind of frame or lens, it will trace the ways in which Greek photographers; the modern Greek poets George Seferis, Odysseus Elytis, Andreas Embirícos, and Yannis Ritsos; and the Canadian poet Anne Carson reflect on the relation between Greece and photography. The course is interested in the ways in which these photographers and writers repeatedly evoke the language of photography to talk about the nature of memory and perception and to suggest that photography provides an entire vocabulary for what Marcel Proust called "the optics of the mind": the flashes of insight and intuition, the light and shadows that enable and interrupt perception, the workings of memory as it tries to seize or fix an image, and in general the various ways in which we perceive or represent the world around us.
The 2014 PIIRS Global Seminar in Greece is cosponsored with the Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies.