Event Date: 23 May 2012
Windsor Building WIN 1-04
What’s Hecuba to him?: Terror, pity and the matter of Troy (from Homer to Alice Oswald)
Professor Marina Warner (Essex) – What’s Hecuba to him?: Terror, pity and the matter of Troy (from Homer to Alice Oswald)
When the First Player dissolves in tears as he recites scenes from the fall of Troy, Hamlet exclaims at the intensity of the actor’s identification, by contrast with his own frozen feelings and incapacity. Hecuba’s tragedy becomes the emblem of empathy, produced more intensely by dramatic representation than by real life.
Recent, near obsessive returns to the Iliad and the matter of Troy, refract current conflicts, and these renderings and revisionings act upon the emotions and attitudes of the spectator and the reader. Marina Warner will explore the way this return to the most ancient war in literature, especially in the work of women writers and artists, makes a claim for the function of art and realigns the question of catharsis.
Marina Warner is Professor in the Department of Literature, Film and Theatre Studies at the University of Essex, and currently visiting professor at NYU Abu Dhabi. She is a writer of fiction, criticism and history, and her many publications include studies of art, myths, symbols and fairy tales, as well as novels and short stories. She is the author of (among others): Alone of All Her Sex: The Myth and the Cult of the Virgin Mary (1976) a provocative and highly influential study of Roman Catholic adoration of the Virgin Mary; Monuments & Maidens: The Allegory of the Female Form (1985); Managing Monsters: Six Myths of Our Time (Reith Lectures) (1994); No Go the Bogey-man: Scaring, Lulling and Making Mock (1998), a study of the male terror figure from ancient myth and folklore to modern obsessions; Signs & Wonders: Essays on Literature and Culture (2003); and Phantasmagoria (2006), which traces the ways in which ‘the spirit’ has been represented across different mediums, from waxworks to cinema. Professor Warner was elected a Fellow of the (2006), which traces the ways in which ‘the spirit’ has been represented across different mediums, from waxworks to cinema. Professor Warner was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature| in 1984 and of the British Academy in 2005. In 2008 she was awarded a CBE for services to literature, and is currently President of the British Comparative Literature Association. Her most recent book, Stranger Magic: Charmed States & The Arabian Nights, published by Chatto & Windus in 2011, is a groundbreaking study that shows how magic helped to create the modern world, and how it is still deeply inscribed in the way we think today.
Introduction by Dr Adam Watt (RHUL) .