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Monday, 5 April 2010


Here's some information about an important seminar, from the website of The Durrell School of Corfu:

The History and Culture of the Ionian Islands
16-21 May, 2010

THE DURRELL SCHOOL OF CORFU will host a six-day seminar, 16–21 May 2010, on the History and Culture of the Ionian Islands. The Academic Director of the seminar will be Dr Anthony Hirst (Institute of Byzantine Studies, Queen’s University Belfast), a member of the Board of the Durrell School. The Moderator and keynote speaker will be Professor Peter Mackridge, Professor Emeritus in the University of Oxford. The seminar will take place in the Library and research centre of the Durrell School at 11 Filellinon in the historic centre of Corfu Town.

The seminar aims to bring together experts in all aspects of the history and culture of the Ionian Islands in what is, we believe, a unique attempt to take an interdisciplinary overview of the history and culture of this group of islands whose development, at least in medieval and modern times, is quite distinct from that of the rest of Greece.

THE SEMINAR WILL FOCUS ON CORFU — though by no means to the exclusion of the other Ionian Islands — and not simply because Corfu is where the Durrell School is located, but also to enable us to link presentations with visits to archaeological sites, historic buildings and museum collections. We hope that many of the experts on Ionian history and culture who live in Corfu or other Ionian Islands, including, especially, members of the academic staff of the Ionian University, will welcome this opportunity to present their history and culture to the mainly non-Greek participants in the Durrell School seminars. Both ‘history’ and ‘culture’ will be taken in their widest sense, and without any restriction of period. We hope that the call for papers will elicit presentations on all of the periods, covering most of the topics suggested below.

The Islands in Prehistory and the Ancient World
Prehistoric archaeology; the earliest Greek settlements; Homeric connections; Eritrean settlement in Corfu; Corinthian colonists in Corfu, their conflict with Corinth and alliance with Athens (Peloponnesian War); the islands under Macedonian and Roman rule; trading connections; the sculpture and architecture of these periods.

The Islands in the Byzantine Empire
The establishment of Christianity in the Islands; political unification of the Islands as a Byzantine Province in the 10th century; Byzantine religious art and architecture in the Islands (especially what can be seen in Corfu).

The Venetian period
The long period of Italian — and mainly Venetian — rule, from the 13th to the late 18th century, is likely to loom large in our seminar because of its effect on the character and culture of the Islands in the modern period. Italian rule prevented the Ionian Islands from being absorbed into the Ottoman Empire, making the Islands the only part of Greece never to come under Ottoman rule. The Greeks of the Ionian Islands looked to Italy for education (especially at the universities of Padua and Genoa); and, unlike the rest of Greece (apart from Venetian Crete until its fall to the Ottomans in 1669), the Ionian Islands remained a part of European intellectual life, in contact with and contributing to the flowering of art, literature and music in the Renaissance and afterwards, and developments in banking, commerce, science and technology. The history of the period is well documented compared with earlier periods; but we would also hope for contributions on the stratification of the indigenous society and the role of the Greek-Italian nobility. In terms of what is visible in Corfu today we could explore (in both senses) the fortification of the town by Schulenberg, and discuss, in relation to this and later periods, the strategic importance of Corfu. We hope that an expert on the Venetian architecture, domestic and municipal as well as military, will come forward both to inform us and to show us around.

The French occupations, and the Septinsular Republic
The many changes in the status of the Islands in the period of the Napoleonic Wars; the architectural and other legacies of French rule; the brief period of partial self government (1800–1807) after the Russian Admiral Ushakov evicted the French; the rise of Ioannis Capodistrias to the position of Chief Minister in the Republic; relations between the Septinsular Republic and the Ottoman Sultan.

The British Protectorate, the United States of the Ionian Islands
This period (1815–1864) saw the Greek Revolution (or War of Independence) and the establishment of the modern Greek state (1821–1830), and although the Ionian Islands were not directly involved in these developments, the names of at least two Ionian Islanders are for ever associated with the Revolution: the statesmen Ioannis Capodistrias (from Corfu) who became the first Greek head of state in 1827; and the poet Dionysisos Solomos (from Zakynthos, but later resident in Corfu), whose Hymn to Liberty, written to further the cause of the Revolution, later provided the words of the Greek national anthem. Topics in this period could include the strong contrast with Greece on the eve of the Revolution which Corfu in particular presented, being already a long-stablished centre of learning, culture, science and commerce; the intellectual and cultural institutions of the period (e.g. the Ionian Academy, the Reading Society); the British administration and its relations with Greek population (and with the Kingdom of Greece after 1830); the British departure and the destruction of the fortifications; the British legacy.

Union with Greece, and the Ionian Islands since 1864
The terms of the Union and its variable impact on the life of the islands; the islands in the two world wars and the Greek Civil War; the postwar politics of the Islands; the impact of EU membership.

Globalization and the Ionian Islands
THERE ARE VARIOUS CULTURAL THEMES which cannot be confined to just one of the post- Byzantine periods listed. Among cultural topics we would hope to see addressed are the following: Modern painters of the Ionian Islands, combined with a gallery visit.

The musical traditions of Corfu
The Ionian Islands in the vanguard of the development of art music in Greece, with the first opera performance in Greece at the Teatro San Giacomo in Corfu in 1733, and the first opera by a Greek composer in the same theatre in 1791, by when opera was a regular feature; the many Ionian composers of the 19th and 20th centuries, linked hopefully to a performance of examples of their works; the Corfu Philharmonic Society; musical competitions and the traditional wind bands; opposition of Ionian Music from mainland Greece and the Greek Church.

The literature of the Ionian Islands
Poetry and prose 15th–18th centuries and the links with Crete; Ionian folksongs (δημοτικά τραγούδια); the Ionian School of poetry which grew up around Solomos, its use of demotic defining the future of Greek poetry; the work of Ionian novelists such as Konstantinos Theotokis and Spyros Plaskovitis.

Science and Industry in the Ionian Islands, including industrial archaeology.

The folklore of the Ionian Islands
The material culture of the Islands (crafts, agriculture, costume, cuisine etc.)
Lord Guilford and the Ionian Academy; Byron and Napier in Kephalonia; Gladstone’s dilemma as commissioner; Edward Lear’s lengthy visits and their pictorial results — and of course Lawrence and Gerald Durrell, whose books introduced so many outsiders to Corfu.

Cultural representations of the Ionian Islands
The islands as they appear in art, literature, film etc. produced within or outside Greece.

BIOGRAPHICAL PRESENTATIONS OF INDIVIDUAL CORFIOTS or other Heptanesians, distinguished in politics or any of the fields of culture mentioned above, would also be welcome: Solomos, Kalvos, Capodistria, the composes Mantzaros and Carrer, members of the Theotokis family, etc.

As well as presentations looking closely at events, movements, individuals and material and cultural production, we would hope to include expert overviews of each of the historical periods. We will invite the presenters to suggest relevant sites or collections we might visit. We envisage two or three half- day tours in Corfu, each taking in a number of sites, and perhaps a day trip to another Ionian Island, with opportunities for the experts to guide us around the sites of their choice. Guided walks in Corfu town and cultural performances in the evenings will round out the experience.


PETER MACKRIDGE, Professor Emeritus in the University of Oxford and recent recipient of an honorary doctorate from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, is widely recognized as an authority on medieval and modern Greek language and literature, including the Ionian (and National) poet Dionysios Solomos, has agreed to be a moderator for the seminar and a keynote speaker. We hope that a member of the Ionian University or other local expert will agree to play a key role alongside Professor Mackridge. Professor Mackridge’s books include The Modern Greek Language (1985) and Dionysios Solomos (1989). He is co-author of Greek: A Comprehensive Grammar of the Modern Language (1997). All these books have also been published in Greek; a collection of his essays on Greek poets Εκμάγεια της ποίησης appeared in 2008; and Peter Mackridge contributes regularly to Greek as well as anglophone academic literary journals. He has edited Greek editions of works by Kosmas Politis: Eroica (1982) and Στου Χατζηφράγκου (1988); and edited both the Greek text and the English translations in The Free Besieged and Other Poems by Dionysios Solomos (2000). His most recent book Language and National Identity in Greece, 1766-1976 was published in April 2009.

ANTHONY HIRST, until recently Lecturer in Modern Greek (and now honorary research fellow) in the Institute of Byzantine Studies, Queen's University Belfast, is a member of the Board of the Durrell School. Dr Hirst has published God and the Poetic Ego (2004), a critical study of the religious elements in the poetry of Palamas, Sikelianos and Elytis, and has restored Cavafy’s Greek text (to conform to the author's own printings) for the Oxford World’s Classics dual-language edition of The Collected Poems of C. P. Cavafy (2007), a volume to which Peter Mackridge contributed a long introductory essay. Apart from his work on Angelos Sikelianos (from Lefkada), Dr Hirst has done as yet unpublished research on two other Ionian poets, Dionysios Solomos and Andreas Kalvos.

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