CHS Open House: ‘Epos and Eris: Composition, Competition and the ‘Domestication’ of Strife’ with Joel Christensen

We are pleased to welcome back Joel Christensen (University of Texas, San Antonio) for our next CHS Open House discussion, on Thursday, October 22 at 11 a.m. EDT, when we will be talking about ‘Epos and Eris: Composition, Competition and the ‘Domestication’ of Strife’ which was originally given as a keynote talk at the 2015 Heartland Graduate Workshop in Ancient Studies.
To prepare for the discussion, participants might like to read the paper, which is available at, here.
The abstract introduces the topic as follows:

This talk examines the interrelationship between Eris and Greek Epos, specifically in Homer and Hesiod. I will argue both that Eris is important for the development of their poems both as a theme (a form that shapes the poems) and as cultural aesthetic that drives them to rival one another. Moreover, the poets’ eristic efforts to contemplate the nature of Eris contribute to a common effect to adapt or, for lack of a better term, to “domesticate” strife. I start by identifying the compositional theme of Eris (also neikos) and its associated motifs of dasmos (“distribution”) and krisis (“judgment”) and then trace out the deployment and alteration of the thematic pattern from the Theogony through the Iliad and the Odyssey and the Works and Days. The dynamic appropriation and interrogation of the Eris theme produces a cultural debate about the nature of strife while also speaking to compositional features of Greek epic. In emphasizing this, I also suggest that the rivalry evident in the poems of Hesiod and Homer is characteristic of an ‘additive’ competitive spirit that is a reflex of and reflection on Green agonism.

Members of Hour 25 can start and continue the discussion in this forum thread.
To watch the event live, simply tune in to this blog post at the appropriate time. To participate in the live Q&A, please visit the associated event page on Google+ here. The webcast will be recorded and available for later viewing via the video frame below. View the list of forthcoming events and access a complete list of videos featuring previous Open House discussions and visits on the Scholars page here at Hour 25.

Dr. Joel Christensen received his BA from Brandeis University in Classics and English and his PhD in Classics from New York University, earning an additional Certificate in Poetics and Theory. He is actively engaged in research that explores the development of literature and language in ancient Greece. His dissertation, “The Failure of Speech: Rhetoric and Politics in the Iliad“, an examination of the Iliad‘s internal conception of effective speech and the political importance of language, has developed into a series of articles on the use of language in Homer and the relationship between our Iliad and a putative poetic tradition.
In addition to explorations of language in the Iliad, Dr. Christensen also collaborates with E.T.E. Barker (Open University, U. K.) on rivalry and generic relationships in Archaic Greek poetry. Together they have published articles on the new Archilochus fragment, Oedipus in the Odyssey and are in the midst of a long-term project on the use of Theban myths in Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. Barker and Christensen have published a Beginner’s Guide to Homerand plan to publish their second book (Homer’s Thebes) within the next few years. In conjunction with his teaching and research interests, Dr. Christensen also writes on myth and its relationship with literary representations: he has published on the Gilgamesh poems, Greek myth and modern science fiction. In addition to being an active researcher, Dr. Christensen also has interests in New Media and conventional publications; he has recently started serving as the book review editor for The Classical Journal.

Selected Publications

  • Forthcoming — “Time and Self-Referentiality in the Iliad and Frank Herbert’s Dune,” in Classical Traditions in Science Fiction, Brett Rogers and Benjamin Stevens (eds.). Oxford, 2015.
  • Forthcoming — (with E. T. E. Barker) “Odysseus’ Nostos and the Odyssey’s Nostoi.” G. Scafoglio (ed.). Studies on the Greek Epic Cycle. 2015.
  • Forthcoming —  “The Hero Herself: From Death-Giver to Storyteller in Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” in Ancient Women and Modern Media, William Duffy and Krishni Burns, eds. Cambridge Scholars Press, est. 2015.
  • Forthcoming – (with E. T. E. Barker) “Even Herakles Had to Die: Homeric ‘Heroism’, Mortality and the Epic Tradition”. Special Issue Trends in Classics: Homer and the Theban Tradition (Christos Tsagalis, ed.; 2014)
  • Forthcoming – “Diomedes’ Foot-wound and the Homeric Reception of Myth,” In Diachrony, Jose Gonzalez (ed.). De Gruyter series, MythosEikonPoesis. est. 2014.
  • Beginner’s Guide to Homer (with E. T. E. Barker), One World Publications (July, 2013)
  • “Aorist Morphology,” in Encyclopedia of Ancient Greek Language and Linguistics, ed. G. Giannakis, Brill. est. 2013.
  • “Innovation and Tradition Revisited: The Near-Synonymy of Homeric ΑΜΥΝΩ and ΑΛΕΞΩ as a Case Study in Homeric Composition.” The Classical Journal 108.3, 257-296.
  • “Ares: ἀΐδηλος: On the Text of Iliad 5.757 and 5.872.” Classical Philology 107.3, 230-238.
  • (with E.T.E. Barker) “On Not Remembering Tydeus: Agamemnon, Diomedes and the Contest for Thebes.”Materiali e Discussioni per l’Analisi dei Testi Classici 66, 9-44.
  • “First-Person Futures in Homer.” American Journal of Philology 131, 543-71.
  • For a complete list of publications, please see Dr. Christensen’s C.V.