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Living Poets: A New Approach to Ancient Poetry (LIVING POETS)
Start date: Jan 1, 2012, End date: Sep 30, 2015 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The aim of this project is to develop a new approach to classical poetry, based on how listeners and readers imagined the Greek and Roman poets. From antiquity to the present, people have produced narrative and visual representations of the ancient poets, drawing from three main sources: their understanding of classical poetry, other representations, and their own personal, lived experience. The main contention of this project is that such representations tell us something crucial – not about the actual poets of Greece and Rome, but about their readers. Classical poetry has been transmitted for over two millennia: this project focuses on the people who recognised its value, and reconfigured its relevance for their particular contexts. An analysis of how they imagined the poets offers a powerful means of investigating the shifting social and cultural value of classical poetry from antiquity to the present.Living Poets opens up new horizons for scholarship in two ways: at a conceptual level, by repositioning authors and readers in the study of classical culture; at a practical level, by creating an innovative electronic tool which connects representations of the ancient poets dating from antiquity to the present (i.e. the Lives of the poets, ancient portraits, and a representative selection of later representations). Barriers of discipline, language, culture and status have often prevented scholars from exploring the ways in which images of the ancient poets permeate both high and popular culture – and connect different readers across time and space. The system’s electronic nature ensures that the new approach is dynamic and flexible. It facilitates cooperation between scholars in different disciplines (e.g. classics, medieval studies, renaissance studies, modern literatures, history of art, archaeology, cultural geography, anthropology and literary theory), widens access to the materials collected, and transforms the way research on them is carried out.
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