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Kassandra and the Censors: Greek Poetry since 1967

Kassandra and the Censors: Greek Poetry since 1967

by Karen van Van Dyck


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In this pioneering study of contemporary Greek poetry, Karen Van Dyck investigates modernist and postmodernist poetics at the edge of Europe. She traces the influential role of Greek women writers back to the sexual politics of censorship under the dictatorship (1967-1974).

Reading the effects of censorship—in cartoons, the dictator's speeches, the poetry of the Nobel Laureate George Seferis, and the younger generation of poets—she shows how women poets use strategies which, although initiated in response to the regime's press law, prove useful in articulating a feminist critique. In poetry collections by Rhea Galanaki, Jenny Mastoraki and Maria Laina, among others, she analyzes how the censors'tactics for stabilizing signification are redeployed to disrupt fixed meanings and gender roles.

As much a literary analysis of culture as a cultural analysis of literature, her book explores how censorship, consumerism, and feminism influence contemporary Greek women's poetry as well as how the resistance to clarity in this poetry trains readers to rethink these cultural practices. Only with greater attention to the cultural and formal specificity of writing, Van Dyck argues, is it possible to theorize the lessons of censorship and women's writing.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780801499937
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Publication date: 12/23/1997
Series: Reading Women Writing
Pages: 328
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.73(d)
Lexile: 1470L (what's this?)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Karen Van Dyck directed Hellenic Studies in the Classics Department at Columbia (1988-2016) and has also been an active member of the Institute for Research on Women, Sexuality and Gender (IRWSG), the Institute of Comparative Literature and Society (ICLS), the European Institute and the Istanbul Global Center. She is the author of Kassandra and the Censors, The Rehearsal of Misunderstanding, The Scattered Papers of Penelope, and Austerity Measures: The New Greek Poetry that won the London Hellenic Prize (2016). Her essays, translations and poetry have appeared in LARB, the Guardian, World Literature Today, and Tender.

Table of Contents

Note on Transliteration and Translation


1. Power, Language, and the Discourses of the Dictatorship
Greece As a Patient in a Cast
Censorship and the Question of Silence
Discursive Styles and Political Practices
Telling the Truth in Eighteen Texts
Dionysis Savvopoulos's Plastic Flag

2. Poetry, Politics, and the Generation of the 1970s
The So-Called Generation of the 1970s
Lefteris Poulios's Political Beat
Vasilis Steriadis's Poetry Strip

3. Women's Writing and the Sexual Politics of Censorship
The Figure of Woman under the Dictatorship
Kyr's Lysistrata
Kassandra's Wolf and Wolf's Cassandra
The Social Text of Women's Poetry after the Dictatorship
Sexual Politics and Poetic Form

4. Rhea Galanaki's The Cake and the Deferred Delivery
Figuring (Out) Woman
The Cake is Pink
The Sexual Politics of Mimesis
Writing As a Pregnant Woman

5. Jenny Mastoraki's Tales of the Deep and the Purloined Letter
The Place Where Terrible Things Happen
Writing the Dreamwork
The Exhibition of Prohibition
The Purloined Letter and the Woman Reader

6. Maria Laina's Hers and the Unreciprocated Look
The Look of Censorship
Toward an Alternative Grammar of Self
Finding the Ground of Love Elsewhere


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