Dissertation defense: Alyson Melzer
The Somatics of Style: Performance, Poetics, and the Body in Greek Literary Criticism
This dissertation brings to light the previously unexplored centrality of the body to the ancient Greek literary critics’ conceptualizations of literary language and style. By focusing on the somatic terminology, metaphors, analogies, descriptions, and sensations at the heart of Greek critics’ theories and discussions of verbal art, Alyson reveals that the critics creatively incorporated the experiences and aesthetics of musical performance into their treatises. Corporeality in Greek literary criticism, she argues, is the vehicle through which we can better understand how gradual, complex, and innovative the transition from oral modes of performance to written literary culture was in elite Greek circles.