Giovanni Fanfani

I am especially interested in the ways a song/poem makes references to the modes of its performance, evokes its musical features, and points to internal patterns of composition. Archaic and Classical Greek poetry, which we now approach as a (largely fragmentary) body of texts, was originally embedded in a ‘song-culture’ and primarily experienced as musical, singing and dancing performances by choruses or solo artists ‒ a dimension which eludes us, given the loss of almost the totality of ancient Greek music and dance. Weaving, in particular, is a privileged referent for the craft of song-making: when the poetic ‘I’ (the composer, the performing chorus, or both) sings “I am weaving a hymn”, a number of potential analogies are activated, which may relate to the complexity of ancient weaving technology as reflected in the structure of the song, its rhythmic and thematic units. In the frame of the PENELOPE project I will have the opportunity to locate the relation between ancient weaving and Greek poetry-making within the broader context of interdisciplinary research into the logical and technological patterns that weaving generates, and I will be able to trace the relevance of the weaving paradigm in post-Classical Greek literature and philosophy.

This will further and substantiate a previous postdoctoral project (2014-2016), Performing the Fabric of Song, hosted by the Centre for Textile Research, University of Copenhagen, and funded by the Danish Minister for Independent Research and FP7 Marie Curie Actions (DFF-MOBILEX), where I explored weaving imagery in Greek poetry from the point of view of the textile background of key-terms of archaic poetics and in the frame of ancient and modern discussions on metaphor (see here), as well as looking at patterns of terminological interaction between the craft of weaving and the craft of playing (mainly stringed) instruments (see here for a recent contribution on this topic). This project gave me the lucky opportunity to meet Ellen Harlizius-Klück, get to know her work, and collaborate with her on a joint contribution where we studied the possible correspondences between the pattern of the ordering beginning in ancient weaving technology and the function of the cross-generic prooimion in archaic Greek poetry.

A parallel research interest of mine concerns Greek tragedy, in particular the last phase of Euripides’ production, characterised by the growing amount of allusive references to previous literary models, both lyric and dramatic, and by the dramatist’ engagement with the novel musical and lyric style known as ‘New Music’. This has been the topic of my PhD at the University of Bologna (2009), and represents a theme that I have been exploring further in more recent years (see here).

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