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Homeric epic and world literature: A comparative study of method

ZABEL, BLAZ (2020) Homeric epic and world literature: A comparative study of method. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



This dissertation addresses the relationship between Homeric epic and world literature by focusing on the history of scholarship, specifically Homeric studies and world literature studies. It investigates three questions: how do ideas about world literature and the globalised world affect interpretations of Homer; how do readings of Homeric poetry inform our understanding of world literature and assist in the process of world-making; and why should anyone interested in world literature choose to focus on Homer? The dissertation is divided into three parts, each dedicated to a historical investigation of a method in which world literature and Homeric epic have been studied: the historical approach, the comparative approach, and the study of literary circulation. In the first part, I discuss how the first theoretician of world literature, J. W. Goethe, and how the father of Homeric scholarship, F. A. Wolf, understood the relation between classical and world literature. Because they were contemporaries and knew each other, there is a rich body of material here that illuminates the discussions and tensions between Goethe and Wolf. In the second part, I focus on the beginnings of literary comparisons by the Irish comparatist and classicist H. M. Posnett, who promoted a historical-comparative approach to literature, and the work of Milman Parry, who developed similar ideas in Homeric scholarship. The third part of my dissertation investigates the ways in which world literature is built through connection rather than comparison. First, I provide a new reading of the history of comparative literature by discussing how literary influences were conceptualised by the French comparatists in the early 20th century. Then I investigate how similar ideas were used by William Ewart Gladstone in his Homeric scholarship and his political life, and further, how the same approach was taken up by Homeric scholars who see the connections between Greece and the Near-East from a postcolonial vantage point. By demonstrating that receptions of Homeric poetry act as a form of world literature’s localisation, this dissertation proposes a new perspective in world literature studies and global classics. While the two disciplines mostly focus on global comparisons, cultural hybridity, cultural exchange, and studying various post-colonial contexts, this dissertation argues that processes of literary localisation, nationalisation, and delimitation are equally integral responses to globalising pressures.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Classics and Ancient History, Department of
Thesis Date:2020
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:30 Sep 2020 11:18

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