Maria Boletsi

Visiting Fellow

  • Affiliation
    Leiden University
    Research Project:
    Specters of Cavafy

Maria Boletsi is Assistant Professor at the Film and Comparative Literature department of Leiden University, the Netherlands. She received her Ph.D. from Leiden University (2010) and has been a visiting scholar at Columbia University. She has published on several topics, including the concept of barbarism, post-9/11 literature and political rhetoric, contemporary Greek literature, street art and subjectivity in the context of the Greek ‘crisis.’ Her recent book publications include Barbarism and Its Discontents (Stanford University Press, 2013), the co-authored book The Lightness of Literature (published in Dutch: De lichtheid van literatuur) on the function of literature in the multicultural society (Acco 2015) and the edited volume Barbarism Revisited: New Perspectives on an Old Concept (Brill 2015, co-edited with Christian Moser). She currently works on a book on spectrality in C.P. Cavafy’s poetics and his poetry’s contemporary afterlives. She is also main partner in an international project on the modern conceptual history of barbarism, funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) and the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). 

About the Research Project

Specters of Cavafy

Cavafy’s poetry remains emphatically contemporary and open to practices of reinvention. His poems keep coming back, haunting, and being haunted by, the present. Drawing from recent theorizations of the ‘specter’ as a productive conceptual metaphor in cultural theory, this project develops spectrality as a theoretical and analytical lens for revisiting Cavafy’s poetry and its bearing on our present. Spectral forces permeate Cavafy’s poetry in the form of shadows, apparitions, half-hidden presences; conflicting ‘truths’; liminal spaces and subjectivities; and a nonlinear temporality, whereby past, present, and future traverse each other. This project brings togethertheories of spectrality, performativity, irony, and affect, and insights from critical and poststructuralist theory, in order to trace the workings of a) the spectral as a central metaphor in Cavafy’s poetics in relation to conceptions of temporality around Cavafy’s time and b) his poetry’s ‘afterlives’ in contemporary settings, both in the Western cultural and political imaginary since 1989 and in crisis-stricken Greece today.

Previous Roles

  • Visiting Research Fellow
    2016 - 2016