Modern Greek Literature
History and Trauma: Modern Greek Literature and Film After 1923
What is historical trauma? How does it shape communities and individual lives, including those born generations after a traumatic event? How does trauma reconfigure notions of time, history, and narrative? Considering that trauma undermines memory, how have writers and filmmakers created aesthetic forms that grapple with knowledge in the wake of a traumatic event? At the same time, how have states instrumentalized and standardized trauma narratives with the aim of creating a coherent national identity? In this seminar, we will attend to the reverberations of trauma in Greek literature, film, and visual culture in the century following the Greco-Turkish War (1919-1922) and Population Exchange (1923-1924). The catastrophic Population Exchange between Greece and Turkey created a refugee crisis that entailed forced deportation, displacement, migration, and resettlement. As communities on both sides were expelled from their homes, and as they suffered the loss of life on a vast scale, the Population Exchange produced a crisis of belonging, identity, and survival. Taking the period of 1919-1924 as a starting point, we will trace the aftereffects of this trauma—as well as its interactions with new forms of violence—in twentieth- and twenty-first century Greek history, including the Occupation of Greece during WWII (1941-1944), the Greek Civil War (1945-1949), dictatorship (1967-1974), and economic crisis, as well as in practices of border-making and border-crossing. Paying attention to literary and cinematic form as well as narrative, we will consider how ellipses, erasure, gaps, neologism, and repetition grapple with the unknown dimension of trauma and the crisis of representation that it produces. We will supplement our discussions of Greek literature and film with essays on historical trauma, loss, and war drawn from the disciplines of literary studies, history, and psychoanalysis.
Assigned readings will be available in English translation. Films will be accompanied by English subtitles. Seminar discussions will take place in English. Students wishing to work on their Modern Greek composition skills may submit supplemental writing in Greek as an additional exercise. Authors: Giorgos Seferis, Ilias Venezis, Kosmas Politis, Costas Taktsis, Yiannis Ritsos, Dinos Christianopoulos Filmmakers: Michael Cacoyannis, Lila Kourkoulakou, Theo Angelopoulos, Costas Ferris, Menelaos Karamaghiolis, Panos Koutras Other Readings: Sigmund Freud, Sándor Ferenczi, Jacques Lacan, Jean Laplanche, Jacques Derrida, Judith Butler, Cathy Caruth, Ruth Leys, Shoshana Felman, Marianne Hirsch, William Stroebel