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GR3: Introduction to Modern Greek Language and Culture

(c) The University of Cambridge

This paper is available for the academic year 2023-24. Some lectures for the literature and culture component may be held online.

This paper offers students a sound and systematic introduction to the Modern Greek language, and the opportunity to acquaint themselves with key aspects of Greek culture from the late nineteenth century to the present.
The aim of the “language” part of the course is to equip students with a good reading knowledge of the contemporary language. The “culture” element consists of the study of
(a) selected literary texts by major authors and by more recent ones, and
(b) a topic relating to the Greek language.

The paper is available, in Part IB or Part II of the MML Tripos and HML Tripos, for those who have not taken a Certificate or Diploma in the language. The paper can be borrowed by students taking Part II of the Classical Tripos (Paper O2). 

The course will be taught by Dr Regina Karousou-Fokas (language) and Dr Liana Giannakopoulou.

There will be a meeting at the start of the Michaelmas term to fix the timetable and make supervision arrangements. The date and time will be announced in good time. Everyone interested in taking the paper should attend that meeting. Bring your diaries!

Please click here to view the latest information leaflet for Paper Gr.3 Introduction to Modern Greek Language and Culture 2023 - 2024.


1. Language work based on the text book: Ελληνικά Τώρα, volumes 1 and 2

2. Literature and culture:

Primary Texts:

  • C.P. Cavafy, selected poems
  • G. Seferis, selected poems from Log Book 2
  • S. Doukas, A Prisoner of War's Story
  • A selection of short stories to highlight aspects of Modern Greek culture and society


  • Language and identity in Greece, 1900-1976
Preparatory reading: 

Reading lists will be provided for each text and topic. In addition, a list of preparatory reading relating to language learning and to literature, history and culture, which students will be expected to undertake before the course starts will be made available in the Easter Term.

Teaching and learning: 

The language component

Students need to acquire a good reading knowledge of Greek in a very short time. In the first two terms they attend two hours per week of language classes that concentrate on the essentials of grammar. In the Easter Term we have workshops on translation from Greek.
Students will benefit from some preparatory study: at the very least they should familiarize themselves with the Greek alphabet and the rules of pronunciation before the start of the course. Copies of the textbook can be borrowed from the Modern Greek Section office.

The literature and culture component

Modern Greek literature and culture are exceptionally rich and rewarding to study, partly thanks to the long cultural tradition that lies behind them, partly thanks to Greece’s geographical position between West and East. The texts selected for this course are eminently accessible: the poetry of Cavafy and Seferis is
internationally recognised and appreciated; the prose texts are all interesting examples of experimental writing by contemporary male and female authors. The topic on “Language and identity” will appeal to students with specific interests in the subject but will also contribute to a broader understanding of Modern Greek culture.

      Michaelmas Term

  • 2 lectures: Introduction to Modern Greek literature (weeks 1-2)
  • 2 lectures on Language and Identity (week 3)
  • 4 lectures: Cavafy, selected poems (weeks 4-8)

      Lent Term

  • 2 lectures: Doukas, A Prisoner of War’s Story (weeks 1-2)
  • 3 lectures: Seferis, selected poems from Log Book 2 (weeks 3-5)
  • 3 lectures: selected short stories on ‘Immigration and Identity’ (weeks 6-8)


      A total of eight supervisions will be required, to prepare students for the essay and critical commentary questions in the examination: there will be three supervisions in the Michaelmas Term, two in Lent, and three in Easter.


For the Gr.3 Moodle site, please see here. The password can be collected from the paper coordinator.


The examination takes the usual form of a three-hour paper, consisting of a compulsory unseen translation, and essay questions on the texts and topics, of which two must be answered. An optional critical commentary may be set on one or more of the literary texts, as an alternative to an essay question.


Course Contacts: 
Dr Regina Karousou-Fokas
Dr Liana Giannakopoulou