Working Papers by Author

Andrew Ford - Classics Department, Princeton University


081103 The Function of Criticism ca. 432 BC: Texts and interpretations in Plato’s 'Protagoras'
Andrew Ford, Princeton University
Download PDF Abstract: Plato’s Protagoras is a unique text in the history of criticism, the only extended example of practical poetic criticism that we have from classical Greece. This long passage (338E-347C) shows a group of fifth-century intellectual luminaries debating the meaning of a dense lyric poem by Simonides: the text is quoted at length and its language examined closely and methodically and wildly. My paper first attempts to pinpoint how this passage — often written off as a parody or a joke or misunderstood as a simplistic polemic against “sophistry” — fits into the work. I argue that Plato is more serious here than is usually supposed, and that the passage gives his best account of uses and limits of literary criticism. In a coda, I consider an analysis of the passage by Glenn Most, which suggests some reflections on recent developments in academic literary criticism.
This paper replaces 120501 originally posted in December 2005.

110602 Performance, Text, and the History of Criticism
Andrew Ford, Princeton University
Download PDF Abstract: I argue that the study of ancient criticism is unduly narrow unless it combines an awareness of the materiality of culture—of the forms in which literary texts were produced, circulated, stored up, and accessed—with an appreciation for how strongly performance traditions could shape the reception and valuation of such texts. To illustrate, I analyze the 25th chapter of Aristotle’s Poetics to show that the theory behind “Problems and Solutions” was less significant culturally than the many-formed game of using poets in ethical debate. Also included is a brief overview of work since Vol. 1 of the Cambridge History of Literary Criticism (edited by George Kennedy in 1989) that fruitfully confronts the idea of the work of art as text with the reality of the work of art as performance.

090606 Herodotus and the Poets
Andrew Ford, Princeton University
Download PDF Abstract: This is an attempt to describe Herodotus’ relation to Greek poets, both as historical sources and as “cultural capital.” It is a brief discussion (1500 words) written for a general audience; but it may be of interest as raising a matter not often considered outside of the excellent and long study by Ph.-E. Legrand in Vol. 1 of the Budé Hérodote (pp. 147 ff.).

090605 THE GENRE OF GENRES: Paeans and Paian in Early Greek Poetry
Andrew Ford, Princeton University
No longer available as a working paper. This is now published in the journal Poetica 38/3-4 (2006) pp. 277-296.

090604 From “Socratic logoi” to “dialogues”: Dialogue in Fourth-century Genre Theory
Andrew Ford, Princeton University
Download PDF Abstract: This paper argues that we can only have a just appreciation of the rise and early development of philosophic dialogue in Greece by bracketing the immense influence that the Platonic version of the form has exerted and turning instead to tracing how “Socratic logoi” came to be recognized as a new prose genre in fourth-century Athens. A consideration of the early terms used to name the form suggests that dialogue should not be derived from fifth-century mime or drama but should be understood in the context of the burgeoning rhetorical literature of the period; in particular, dialogue will be shown to be one of many innovative kinds of fictional speech-texts that were proclaiming new and special powers for written prose.
This paper replaces 061101 originally posted in June 2011.

120501 The Function of Criticism ca. 432 BC: Texts and interpretations in Plato’s 'Protagoras'
Andrew Ford, Princeton University
This paper has been revised. See 081103 entry.