Townsend lecturer explores Anatolian origins of European literature

Sarah Morris, a classicist and archaeologist in the Department of Classics and the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA, will deliver the Townsend Lectures in the Department of Classics on April 10, 12 and 15.

Since 1985, the Prescott W. Townsend Memorial Fund has supported annual lectures given by scholars of international reputation. The lectures, revised for publication, are published by Cornell University Press in the series Cornell Studies in Classical Philology.

Morris’ research involves the interaction of Greece with its Eastern neighbors, in art, literature, religion and culture. Her chief book on the subject, “Daidalos and the Origins of Greek Art” (Princeton, 1992) won the James Wiseman Book Award from the Archaeological Institute of America for 1993. She is also a practicing field archaeologist who has worked in Israel, Turkey, Greece and Albania, and has recently completed a field project at Methone in northern Greece.

Her Cornell talks, “Out Of Anatolia: The Trojan War From Hatti To Hissarlik,” will focus on the poetry, art and history taking place around the time of the epic story of the Greek expedition to attack Troy and recover Helen, best known from Homer’s “Iliad.”

“During the first millennium BCE, names and places from those regions survived in local memory and inspired epic tales linked to Homeric personalities and adventures that unfolded beyond the events imagined around the ruins of Troy, which shaped the poetic work attributed to Homer,” Morris wrote about her talk. “These parallel lives emerge through a close examination of early Greek art beyond Athens and in Archaic poetry, across the constellation of islands and cities named by Homer.”

Her talks are scheduled for:

“Sarah has written several of the most original and innovative books and essays in classical art and archaeology over the past generation,” said Sturt Manning, Distinguished Professor of Arts and Sciences in Classical Archaeology. “A pioneer in recognizing and investigating the explanatory importance of the wider, especially eastern (Anatolian, East Mediterranean), connections of the Classical world, Sarah promises in her three Townsend Lectures to make us rethink—highlighting the Anatolian origins and associations of what is usually regarded as the quintessential beginnings of European literature: the works of Homer.”

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