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About the book

Greek Laughter and Tears is the first major overview to take the study of emotions beyond the classical period and fills an important scholarly gap inasmuch as it shows continuities and differences in the expression of emotions over the centuries.’ Marc Lauxtermann, Bywater and Sotheby Professor of Byzantine and Modern Greek, University of Oxford

What makes us laugh and cry, sometimes at the same time? How do these two primal, seemingly discrete and non-verbal modes of expression intersect in everyday life and ritual, and what range of emotions do they evoke? How may they be voiced, shaped and coloured in literature and liturgy, art and music?

Bringing together scholars from diverse periods and disciplines of Hellenic and Byzantine studies, this volume explores the shifting shapes and functions of laughter and tears. With a focus on the tragic, the comic and the tragicomic dimensions of laughter and tears in art, literature and performance, as well as on their emotional, sociocultural and religious significance, it breaks new ground in the study of ancient and Byzantine affectivity.

Speakers

Margaret Alexiou is George Seferis Professor Emerita of Modern Greek

Studies and Professor of Comparative Literature at Harvard University. She is the author of The Ritual Lament in Greek Tradition (1972, revised edition 2002) and After Antiquity: Greek Language, Myth, and Metaphor (2002). In autumn 2013 she was A.G. Leventis Visiting Professor at the University of Edinburgh and co-convenor of the international conference on which Greek Laughter and Tears is based.

Douglas Cairns is Professor of Classics in the University of Edinburgh. His research interests include language, emotion, and society in Classical Greece; history of distributed cognition; ancient emotions in Byzantine Greek; honour and status in classical Greece. His study of Sophocles’ Antigone was published by Bloomsbury in 2016.

Niels Gaul is A.G. Leventis Professor of Byzantine Studies at the University of Edinburgh. He currently is the Principal Investigator of a Byzantinist-Sinologist project funded by the European Research Council, ‘Classicising learning in medieval imperial systems: cross-cultural approaches to Byzantine paideia and Tang/Song xue’. His study of the late Byzantine author Thomas Magistros (in German) was published in 2011.


Greek Laughter and Tears is volume 8 in the Edinburgh Leventis Studies. The book and the conference on which it was based were sponsored by the A.G. Leventis Foundation, which has also generously sponsored many of our activities in the Centre for Hellenic Studies at King’s.

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