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Ancient poetry knows different kinds and degrees of anonymity. There are poems that survive literally without any indication of authorship and cannot be attributed to any known poet (e.g. epigrams in the Greek Anthology that already in antiquity were marked as anonymous). Many are attributed to a well-known author, but the attribution is clearly wrong and more or less groundless (e.g. the Ciris). Sometimes the ascription may be wrong, but not entirely groundless, since the poem belongs to a tradition originating in the oeuvre of a great poet (as some ps.-Theocritean idylls do, or, in a different way, Homeric hymns). Another case are poems which are fakes intended, playfully or seriously, to be taken as works of some known poet (presumably the Culex). Yet again, there are poems whose authorship is uncontested, but little or nothing is known about the poet apart from the name, which may make the poem as good as anonymous (e.g. the Ilias Latina; in fact, it seems always worth asking how much we actually know about ‘known’ poets: what would have changed if we did not know Grattius’ name?). There can be further categories no doubt, and borders between them are not always fixed, and of course the inclusion into this or that category can often be debated.
Yet despite this variety of possibilities, most anonymous poems (or collections of poems) share several of the following characteristics: marginal status in scholarship, and in reception in general; stigma of aesthetic inferiority; uncertain date (and context) of production; unreliable manuscript tradition; relatively small size. Like anonymity, all these are negative characteristics, and cumulatively they pose extreme challenges to students of anonymous poetry. Because of this lack of positive contextualisation throughout their entire history as far as it can be traced, it often proves difficult to find a secure foothold for adequate appreciation of anonymous poems.
FECHA LÍMITE/DEADLINE/SCADENZA: 04/09/2017
FECHA CONGRESO/CONGRESS DATE/DATA CONGRESSO: 14-15/06/2018
LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: Trinity College, Univerity of Dublin (Dublin, Ireland)
ORGANIZADOR/ORGANIZER/ORGANIZZATORE: Boris Kayachev (TCD); Anna Chahoud (TCD)
We would like to invite scholars working on anonymous poetry to share their experiences and ideas. While individual poems necessarily present unique sets of specific problems, in the majority of cases the central task is the same: to find a way through the debris of uncertainties and to arrive at a coherent (if inevitably incomplete) view of the poem (collection) in question. We propose to start from the most basic level, that of text, and to consider how establishing and interpreting the text of an anonymous poem affects, and is in return affected by, our attempts to answer other questions posed by the poem: date of composition, place in literary history, style and aesthetic quality, poetic meaning, etc.
Please submit a proposal of up to 300 words for a 30-minute paper to email@example.com by Monday 4th September. You are also invited to indicate in your email (1) if you are pursuing or planning a specific editorial project related to the topic of your paper, (2) if you would be willing to contribute your paper to the proceedings volume which we plan to produce in the aftermath of the conference, and (3) if you would require financial support to attend the conference (we hope to be able to cover at least some of the attendance costs, especially for younger scholars).