Personal & Professional Development Seminar: Echo and Narcissus in Victorian Poetry
Κολέγιο CITY College
Main Campus, Thessaloniki, Greece
14 November 2023

Personal & Professional Development Seminar: Echo and Narcissus in Victorian Poetry

Tuesday, 21 November 2023


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Personal and Professional Development Seminars 2023 by CITY College's Humanities Department



Dr James Williams

Lecturer in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture, Department of English and Related Literature, University of York



Greek mythology (whether accessed directly from Greek texts, through Latin retellings, or from translations) is one of the great source traditions of European literature. We find its presence across all but the very earliest periods of English poetry, but the functions and qualities of the mythic imagination differ from age to age. In this series of two lectures, I want to think about the mythographical dimension of English poetry between high Romanticism and the advent of the 20th century, from Shelley to Freud, a period that it is convenient to call "Victorian". In the first, I consider the curious afterlife of Echo and Narcissus. I suggest the story can be found in some surprising places, and that it offers poets a way of thinking through questions of speech and silence, repetition and rhyme, meaning and communication. In the second, I move to the great intersecting underworld myths: Demeter and Persephone, and Orpheus and Eurydice. In both lectures I argue that myths in poetry in the nineteenth century are also myths about poetry: mythography provides a conceptual grammar for approaching questions that would, much later, be rearticulated in other idioms including pyschoanalysis and literary theory.



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