The Modern Greek Seminar was established in February 2005 within the context of the University Seminars’ Program at Columbia University. The University Seminar Movement has flourished for over fifty years at Columbia, growing from the original five seminars in 1945 to approximately seventy-five seminars today. Each seminar acts as an autonomous and voluntary grouping of scholars and practitioners brought together under the auspices of Columbia University by their dedication to a particular line of investigation. The movement is not only interdisciplinary, but inter-institutional, and involves members of the community who might not otherwise participate in university activity. The seminars have as their central goal the integration of otherwise fragmented knowledge, a pulling together of the many threads of knowledge and experience through the stimulus of continuing discussion. Furthermore, the seminar encourages the publication of work presented under its aegis. As a consequence, any presentation made to one of its seminars makes the speaker eligible to apply to The Leonard Hastings Schoff Publication Funds or the Aaron Warner Fund: both funds support the defrayment of costs associated with publication. A number of seminar participants have availed themselves of this benefit in the seminar’s first years of growth.
Participation in The Modern Greek Seminar at Columbia University is by invitation and attendees are chiefly faculty members and Ph.D students in Hellenic Studies and related fields as well as artists and writers from the tri-state area of New York, Connecticut and New Jersey. The seminar’s title emphasizes the language—modern Greek—over the metropolitan nation-state, modern Greece. By so doing, the seminar uses the enduring and versatile nature of the language as a symbol for broader themes that, both diachronically and synchronically, depict the tension between sameness and difference, between the continuities and discontinuities that comprise the Hellenic world. The seminar does not limit its focus to Modern Greece, even though it remains its foremost concern, instead it seeks to provide a forum for original interdisciplinary perspectives on Byzantine, Ottoman, and Modern Greece and the Greek diaspora. Seminar participants from a wide variety of fields consider all aspects of the post-classical Greek world as well as the reception and creative appropriation of the classical Greek tradition both in Greece and abroad. The seminar examines Greek relations with Western Europe, the Balkans, the Mediterranean, the Caucasus and the Middle East, tracing also the cultural presence of historic Greek communities in these areas as well as in more recent diasporas, in the United States and Australia. The seminar also examines the presence of diverse communities within Greece.
The seminar was established by Professor Vangelis Calotychos in 2005; he served as chair until 2014. Rapporteurs for the seminar have historically been drawn from among the graduate student body in the Program in Hellenic Studies. At each meeting, the rapporteur keeps minutes that comprise of a summary of the speaker’s lecture as well as a rendering of the discussion elicited from the audience of the day. The University Seminars’ Program stipulates that after five years the minutes from all its meetings will be open to users with access to the Columbia Library. However, each seminar is encouraged to draw up its own regulations regarding the sharing of its proceedings. The Modern Greek Seminar proposes to make its minutes available on the website of The Program in Hellenic Studies, at Columbia, upon securing permission of the invited speaker.
Chloe Howe Charalambous
PhD student, English & Comparative Literature