As a CHS-CCS Fellow 2019-2020 in Comparative Cultural Studies, I have explored the concept of myth in context of the Greek avant-garde movement of the 1960s, focusing on the Greek poet and critic Nanos Valaoritis and the Pali Group. Central to my research is the idea of modern mythogenesis and the ways that Greek intellectuals and artists associated with international Surrealism drew inspiration from comparative mythology and religion. The project investigates the appropriations and re-imaginings of the past in the context of the avant-garde to revisit contemporary concerns, such as migration, exile, mobility, cultural hybridity, and liminality, thus reflecting on social processes connected to identity, cultural transfers, and alternative epistemologies in post-war Greece. The project is also concerned with the modern reconceptualization of myth as a form of anti-narrative that transgresses genres exploring the potentialities of language, and as a bricolage of anti-classical mythical discourses invested with political potential.
This research project significantly benefited from the fellowship. Full access to the electronic sources of the Center for Hellenic Studies and of the Harvard University libraries was extremely helpful and vital for my research that will culminate in publications and conference papers. It is noteworthy that I became acquainted with a vast and wide-ranging bibliography that was not available in other university libraries in Greece.
My participation in the Harvard Summer Program in Greece further consolidated my research project. First of all, I was offered the opportunity to interact with prestigious scholars and an academic audience from diverse disciplines that enriched my perspective on interdisciplinarity and excellence. I also familiarized myself with different teaching methods and evaluated its outcomes for students and the learning process in academic institutions. The presentation of my research findings through my lecture and the ensuing discussions further provided me with refreshing and stimulating insights and feedback. But above all, I appreciated the support, encouragement, intellectual openness and constructive criticism of the multi-cultural and multi-lingual academic community of Harvard University.
To sum up, the CHS-CCS Fellowship has not only contributed to the development and dissemination of my research in crucial ways, but has also been an invaluable and rewarding experience in terms of academic networking and advancement. Undoubtedly, the Center for Hellenic Studies of Harvard University and its Summer Program in Greece constituted the ideal context for me to interweave and explore my interdisciplinary research interests and to test my theories and research outcomes through a comparative and critical lens.
Victoria Ferentinou is an Assistant Professor at the University of Ioannina where she teaches art theory and history of art. Ferentinou obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Archaeology and Art History from the University of Ioannina, a Master of Arts in Archaeology from the University of London and a Master of Arts in Modern Art and Theory from the University of Essex. She received her PhD in Art History and Theory from the University of Essex in 2007. Ferentinou has lectured about and published peer-reviewed articles and book chapters on international surrealism, its theory and practice; feminist art, theory and criticism; the appropriations of the concept of myth in modern art and theory; and the intersections between occultism and modernist culture in a European and Latin American context. Ferentinou is a contributor to The International Encyclopedia of Surrealism (London, Bloomsbury 2019) and co-editor of Surrealism, Occultism and Politics: In Search of the Marvellous (New York, Routledge 2017). She is a contributing editor for Mai: Journal of Feminism and Visual Culture, and was the organizer of the international symposium Visual Ecotopias: History, Theory, Criticism that took place in the framework of the 1rst Biennale of Western Balkans in Ioannina (11-14 October 2018).