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Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics


GK Myth

GK Myth: Myth and Literature - NOT RUNNING IN LENT TERM 2022

Course Convenor: Dr Liana Giannakopoulou (

Myth has shown a remarkable capacity to evolve throughout the ages and adapt to the intellectual and aesthetic requirements of different periods. Western European Literature is permeated by Classical Greek myths, and during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in particular, with the advances in science, the industrialization of society, the decline in religious faith and the increasing sense of alienation from tradition, community and past spiritual values, writers such as Eliot and Joyce explored and re-interpreted these myths in order to offer modern approaches to the inherited past, time, history, humanity’s yearning for order and individual and national identity. During this period, theorists also developed new critical frameworks for the analysis of myth: particularly psychoanalytical, comparative and structural approaches. To understand the role of myth in twentieth and twenty-first-century culture, we also need to assess the intellectual background against which that culture was generated.

The exploration of how Classical Greek myths have been adopted and reworked in Modern Greek literature and culture is a case in point because it offers students the opportunity to discover Greek literature and culture’s interaction with and creative assimilation of European traditions and this gives the paper a comparative dimension. More importantly, however, it allows students to reflect on what happens when myths return to their “birthplace”: does their use in Modern Greek literature offer a different, alternative paradigm of reception and creative assimilation? Modern Greek literature, with its double helix of appropriation and alienation, offers a particularly significant lens through which to read antiquity in dialogue with modernity and modernism.

Modernity is also the age of multi-media, and in particular of the blending of the literary and the visual (in a way that only partially intersects with ancient ecphrastic discourse). To understand the modern reception of Greek myth, this paper will also consider important examples of visual art and film and the dialogue that develops between them and literature.

This module is open to non-Greek speakers as well as those with a reading knowledge of Greek.


Preliminary Reading:


  • Bell, Michael. Literature, Modernism and Myth (Cambridge UP 1997)
  • Coupe, Laurence. Myth (Routledge 2008).
  • March, Jennifer Ruth. Cassell Dictionary of Classical Mythology (Cassell 1998).
  • Segal, Robert. Myth: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press 2004).
  • Modern Greece and Myth
  • Leontis, Artemis. Topographies of Hellenism: Mapping the Homeland (Ithaca 1995)
  • Mackridge, P. (ed.) Ancient Greek myth in modern Greek poetry (London: Frank Cass Publishers 1996).


Film and Myth

  • Michelakis, Pantelis. Greek Tragedy on Screen (Oxford University Press 2013)
  • Nikoloutsos, Konstantinos P. Ancient Greek Women in Film (Oxford University Press 2013
  • Feminism and Myth
  • Angelaki-Rooke, Katerina. ‘Sex roles in Modern Greek Poetry.’ Journal of Modern Greek Studies 1 (1): 141–156.
  • Cixious, Hélène, ‘The laugh of Medusa’, in Signs, Vol. 1, No. 4 (Summer, 1976), pp. 875-893
  • Rich, Adrienne. ‘When we dead awaken: Writing as re-vision’ in On Lies, Secrets and Silence (New York: W.W. Norton, 1979).
  • Studies useful for particular mythical figures and themes
  • Brombert, V. In Praise of Antiheroes: Figures and Themes in Modern European Literature, 1830-1980 (Chicago University Press, 1999).
  • Clayton, Barbara. A Penelopean poetics: reweaving the feminine in Homer’s Odyssey (Lexington Books 2004)
  • Hall, Edith. The Return of Ulysses (I.B.Tauris 2008).
  • Louis, Margot K. Persephone Rises, 1860-1927. Mythography, Gender, and the Creation of a New Spirituality (Ashgate 1988)
  • Segal, Charles. Orpheus. The myth of the poet (Baltimore: The John’s Hopkins University Press, 1993).
  • Stanford, W.B. The Ulysses Theme. A study in the Adaptability of a Traditional Hero (Dallas 1992, 2nd edn)

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