Orality and early Greek epic: Ahuvia Kahane

6 December 2023, 5.00 PM - 6 December 2023, 6.00 PM

Online (Zoom)

Prof. Ahuvia Kahane (Trinity, Dublin), ‘Entangled Modalities: “Orality”, Language, Ethics, and Ontology’

'The idea of orality and its corollary, literacy, have structured long and important historical debates among linguists, anthropologists, philosophers and literary scholars, from Vico and Wolf to Parry and Lord, to Ong, Goody, Finnegan, Olson and work by many contemporary scholars in classics, Biblical studies, folklore, poetics, cognitive linguistics and more. In this presentation, I nevertheless suggest that looking to the future we must, on scientific, linguistic, ethical and empirical grounds, revise our use of the terms and our understanding of the phenomena they claim to describe. If we choose to use the terms ‘oral’ and ‘literate’, we must restrict them to their minimal, non-exclusive modal/material sense (‘use of the mouth’, ‘use of systems of written letters’). We may otherwise point to contingent, stochastic patterns and entangled behaviour within works and traditions but, as a matter of strict methodological principle, should be cautious with regard to categorical associations, taxonomic boundaries, the definition of conceptual ‘objects’, linear narratives of historical progression, as well as cognitive and poetic mechanisms. The argument, necessarily brief and condensed, draws on fundamental methodological insights from the philosophy of science (Daston, Latour), the study of complexity (Prigogine, Stenger, Barad), cognitive functional linguistics (Tomasello, Goldberg, Bybee) and contemporary ethics and aesthetics (Rancière, Braidotti), and briefly illustrates its proposal with a few technical examples of repetitive diction (deliberately avoiding the term ‘formula’) in archaic Greek epic.'

This event is part of a series of free, online seminars on the topic of orality and early Greek epic, hosted by Frances Pickworth and Pantelis Michelakis at the University of Bristol. To find out more about the series, including other speakers, please visit the seminar homepage.

To attend this event or other seminars in the series, please register via Zoom. Registration is free. If you have any questions about the series or problems signing up, please email Frances Pickworth at f.pickworth@bristol.ac.uk.

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