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Thalia Pandiri

Professor of Classical Languages and Literatures and of Comparative Literature


email Send E-mail office Office: Seelye 417 phone Phone: 585-3485

Office hours spring 2016: T/Th 1:30-2:30 & by appt.

As I look back, it seems to me I came to comparative literature both inevitably and in a roundabout way. I grew up bilingual (Greek and English) and bicontinental, between Athens and the United States. In addition to Greek and English, I often heard Turkish and French in my home. My schooling in Greece emphasized Ancient Greek (five or six hours a week starting in seventh grade), but I also studied Latin, French and German. As an undergraduate and a graduate student, I studied in Germany and Italy as well as the United States. Not surprisingly, studying a national literature in isolation seemed arbitrary and artificial to me: how does one draw a line between Ancient and Modern Greek, or between Latin and the Romance languages? What sense do the shifting borders of nation states make when one thinks of cosmopolitan polyglossic empires whose boundaries are fluid? When I discovered comparative literature with its emphasis on the theoretical frameworks that enable us to explore interrelationships across languages, time periods and geographical areas, it felt like home.

The kindest term that could be applied to my research and teaching interests is "ecumenical." I teach Greek and Latin language and literature courses, and I also teach comparative literature courses on drama, romance novels from antiquity to the present and representations of maternal filicide. Some of the work I have published is on Ancient Greek, Medieval Latin, and Modern Greek texts. I've translated medieval German women's visionary texts written in Latin and Modern Greek poetry and prose; in recent years I have become increasingly engaged in translation studies. Currently I'm writing a book on how the filicidal mother is represented, primarily in literary texts. I am also involved in what is sure to be a long-term commitment arising out of my participation as a faculty research fellow in the Kahn Institute Anatomy of Exile project in 2000–01: accounts of the survivors of the Asia Minor disaster, the expulsion of the large Greek minority population from Turkey after the First World War (1922). I also edit Metamorphoses, the journal of the Five-College faculty seminar on literary translation. A number of comparative literature faculty and majors have worked on and published in this journal.