This talk will focus on the involvement of key modernist writers, such as George Theotokas, George Seferis and Odysseus Elytis, in the management of Greek cultural institutions (National Theater, National Radio Foundation) between the Dekemvriana (1944) and the onset of the Greek Civil War (1946). Fully attuned to the post-war demands for the popularization of high culture in Western Europe, the writers in question —commonly grouped as the 1930s literary generation— played an important role in the dissemination of literature through non-print media, particularly stage performances and radio broadcasts. If previous accounts associated this circle almost exclusively with elitism and highbrow art, only tracing its ambivalent relationship to popular culture from the 1960s onwards, my work points in a different direction. The initial post-war years, it will be argued, marked a turning point in the relationship between modernism and popular culture, revealing that the space of modernist practice in Greece was considerably larger and much more versatile than hitherto acknowledged.

Fiona Antonelaki specializes in twentieth-century Greek literature and/in performance with a special interest in radio and audio culture, archival recovery, and the relationship between modernism and mass culture. She graduated with a B.A. in History and Archaeology from the University of Athens and a Ph.D. in Modern Greek Literature from King’s College London. Her publications include studies on the role of modernist writers in Greek radio programming (Best Essay Prize in Memory of Panagiotis Moullas, 2016), the literary productions of the Greek National Theater, and the poetry recordings of George Seferis. Her current book project explores the history of the BBC Greek Section in the context of transnational media circulation and propaganda.

Respondent: Katerina Stergiopoulou, Classics