Topics Modern Greek Literature
Mothers and Daughters: Crisis and Agency in Modern Greek Fiction (1880's-1980's)
The emphasis of this course is on a close reading of novels selected from within a turbulent political period, from the last twenty years of the nineteenth century through the decade of the 1980's. The fiction will be placed in its historical and political context. These novels, by both men and women authors, reflect, in the construction of their female main characters, the violent social changes brought about by the various wars, the chaos and disorder of the post-war years, as well as the social changes that enter, albeit slowly, with the political struggle for the rights of women. In Greece, the social institution of the traditional family kept (and in many ways still keeps), the family, with its members in their appointed roles and functions, as the center of the state and the truth of society in its organic and authentic form. And yet, the central fictional personages of mothers and daughters, in the selected novels, frequently militate against these assumptions. These are complex, liminal characters, between community and individuality, between the real and the symbolic, even the human and the non- human, but striving for agency and self definition. Through the disquiet atmosphere that surrounds their main characters, these works of fiction allow for the deeper anxieties of the political and social climate to seep through. The creation of such familial, yet unfamiliar, protagonists reflects the uneasiness brought about by changes within a social order that was being continuously challenged by the roles of women during the various wars and the post-war crises. Notes: • There is no prerequisite for this course. • All literary works are available also in English translation. • History and theory are in English, • Foreign films are subtitled in English. • A Reading schedule will be distributed during the first meeting of the class. • Readers, with additional reading material, are prepared by the instructor.