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Breaking and Entering: Metalepsis in Classical Literature - 03-04-05/09/2015, Oxford (England)

The development of metalepsis as a critical concept could almost be described as a performance of its own signification: where ancient rhetoric had made limited use of the word to describe certain usages close to metaphor and metonymy (staying strictly within the confines of rhetoric and stylistics), the term recently crossed this boundary, entered the territory of narratology, and was re- framed much more broadly as the breaking of the frame between distinct narrative worlds. This modern notion of metalepsis, introduced by Genette (Figures III, 1972; Métalepse, 2004), proved insightful for exploring interactions between the worlds of author and text, such as scenarios in (postmodern) fiction where an author enters into conversation with a character (Malina, Breaking the Frame, 2002).

However, metalepsis has a much greater potential to address all sorts of other transgressions between worlds or levels, and to deepen our understanding of a whole range of dynamics from apostrophe to ecphrasis, from allegory to the invocation of a Muse. Classicists have only just begun to examine what metalepsis might mean in the ancient world (de Jong, “Metalepsis in Ancient Greek Literature”, 2009; Whitmarsh, “Radical Cognition: Metalepsis in Classical Greek Drama”, 2013; Eisen/Möllendorff, Über die Grenze, 2013). With such enquiries gathering momentum, this international conference sets out to take the debate to the next level. We want to ask both where metalepsis can most productively join other critical concepts in classical research and how explorations of ancient metalepsis might change, refine or extend the general critical understanding of the concept itself. If metalepsis consists fundamentally in the breaking down of barriers, what sort of barriers and what sort of transgressions can the concept be fruitfully applied to? Is there something to be said for drawing on this concept in approaches other than narratology? Does it require recognisable levels of reality and fictionality, constructed by narrative (or other) means? Do we need media-specific understandings of metalepsis, or could inter-arts criticism benefit from a general notion of how metalepsis works across and with different media? Do conflations between levels of different sorts (whether of time, space, subjectivities, genres, realities/fictionalities or media) operate in the same way and elicit similar effects?

FECHA/DATE/DATA: 03-04-05/09/2015

LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: Ioannou Centre for Classical and Byzantine Studies - University of Oxford (Oxford, England)

ORGANIZADOR/ORGANIZER/ORGANIZZATORE: Dr Sebastian Matzner (University of Exeter) ; Dr Gail Trimble (University of Oxford)

INFO: web -



Thursday, 3 September 2015

2.00 Coffee and introductions

2.30-3.30 Back to the Future? Potential and Problems of Metalepsis avant Genette (Sebastian Matzner)

3.30-4.30 Metalepsis and Metaphysics (Duncan Kennedy)

4:30-5:00 Tea

5.00-6.00 Metalepsis and the Real (Felix Budelmann)

6.00-7.30 Wine reception

Informal dinner in town

Friday, 4 September 2015

9.30-10.30 Metaleptic Apostrophe in Pindar and Bacchylides (Irene de Jong)

10.30-11.30 Representation Delimited in Ancient Vase-Painting and Literature (Jonas Grethlein)

11.30-12.00 Coffee

12.00-1.00 Metalepsis in Archaic and Classical Greek Epigram (Ivana Petrovic)

1.00-1.30 Pause for Reflection: Plenary Discussion

1.30-2.30 Lunch

2.30-3.30 Anachronism in Hellenistic Poetry (Peter Bing)

3.30-4.30 Parabatic Lucian (Tim Whitmarsh)

4.30-5.00 Tea

5.00-6.00 PGR presentations:

Metalepsis and Metapoetic Realism in Historical Epic Poetry (Markus Kersten)

Ancestors in Adrastus’ atria: Temporal Metalepsis in Statius’ Thebaid (Laura Garofalo)

Secondary Metalepsis? Talking to Virgil in Fulgentius’ Expositio Vergilianae Continentiae (Talitha Kearey)

6.00-7.30 Wine reception

Conference dinner (7.30 at Vaults & Garden/Old Library)

Saturday, 5 September 2015

9.30-10.30 Metalepsis in Bucolic Poetry (Ruurd Nauta)

10.30-11.00 Coffee

11.00-12.00 Narrative and Lyric Levels in Catullus (Gail Trimble)

12.00-1.00 Close Encounters: Divine Epiphanies on the Fringes of Latin Love Elegy (Laurel Fulkerson)

1.00 Lunch and departure

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