Polyvalence by design : anticipated audience in hellenistic and augustan poetry
APA 146TH annual meeting January 8-11, 2015, New Orleans, LA
Date limite : 1er février 2014
Organizers: Jeffrey Hunt and Alden Smith, Baylor University
The advent of the Hellenistic period and waxing influence of the Museum in Alexandria, whose ambition it was to gather and categorize literature, effected the rise of new contexts and attitudes toward poetry. The dominance of performative poetry such as comedy, tragedy, and choral lyric gave way to learned works characterized by polyeideia and polysemeousness. On the one hand, texts featuring such Alexandrian sophistication aimed at a narrow swathe of educated readers, especially Ptolemy Philadelphus and the poets of his Museum. On the other hand, these developments were happening alongside and incorporating performative genres (such as tragedy) and "low," popular works, especially mime. Thus, just as Hellenistic poetry became increasingly learned and experimental, as can be seen also in the haute connaissance of Augustan poetry, the scope of its appeal was paradoxically also ever widening, particularly in the hands of poets such as Theocritus, Virgil, Horace, etc. Accordingly along with the more familiar challenges to genre and form came the problemitization of audience, reflecting exclusiveness and inclusion at once, which is the central theme of this panel, a polyvalence that is by design.
One consequence of looking beyond traditional methods of reading (such as Eco's model reader or Conte's reader-addressee) is recognizing a broader and more significant role for literary works within ancient societies as well as reevaluating the distance between socio-political classes, some evidence for which has already been adduced. For example, Harder has recently proposed that fluctuations in Callimachus' style may have catered both to elite, educated readers as well as to a wider, less erudite audience. Harder's theory, supported by papyri finds, has the potential to alter dramatically the notion of the Museum as mere ivory tower. One may also consider the evidence from Tacitus of Virgil's extensive popularity among all Romans, not simply the senatorial class (Dialogus 13.2); Pompeiian graffiti amply support this notion, as well. Accordingly, while there are many reasons for the cognoscenti of any age to appreciate Virgil, there are also many features of his text that appealed to plebeian or less well-educated audiences.
In light of these issues, we would like to consider the possibility that Hellenistic and Augustan authors crafted polyvalent texts that engender various readerships. We thus invite papers that explore how texts of the Hellenistic and Augustan periods encode not a single reader but a plurality of audiences, both listeners and readers. We especially welcome papers that explore the access to texts of social groups such as freemen, freedmen, women, and slaves and can address, in particular, texts that anticipate a multi-dimensional audience.
Source : APA