Performance, Text, and the History of Criticism

Andrew L. Ford

in The Oxford Handbook of Hellenic Studies

Published in print August 2009 | ISBN: 9780199286140
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Classics and Ancient History

 Performance, Text, and the History of Criticism

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This article asks how the Greeks negotiated issues of textuality and performance when developing their own critical approaches to their literature. In tackling this question, it engages with some of the issues set out in the previous articles in this part of the book. Beyond the different subjects, perspectives, and agendas, there is a determination, on the part of all contributors, to confront theory with practice, and to compare text with context. Greek literature may seem very close, but it sets us in dialogue with a remote, sophisticated, and only partly literate society. The discussion argues that the study of ancient criticism is unduly narrow unless it combines an awareness of the materiality of culture with an appreciation of how strongly performance traditions could shape the reception and valuation of such texts. It also explores a small piece of Aristotelian literary theory.

Keywords: textuality; Greek literature; literary critic; literate society; Aristotelian literary theory; performance traditions

Article.  4207 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Classical Drama ; Classical Poetry

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