Abigail Walker (KCL) - 2017-18 Students

Ovid’s ‘Metamorphoses’ and the Arts: Transformations of Literary Myths into Visual Narratives

This project will look into Greek and Roman mythology in both textual and pictorial narratives in order to investigate the effects of the media on modes of story-telling. The discussion will be diachronic, looking at ancient material and their later pictorial ancestors, with a view to bridging the disciplinary gap between Classics and Art History. It will consider how a rejection of the Neo-Classical in modern art’s surrealism and abstraction provides a whole new way of telling ancient myths, and will project these ideas back to ancient mythological narratives and uses of the surreal. This project will focus on the mythical landscapes in which such fantastical narratives take place, and grapple with the problem of representing the unrepresentable: narrating or depicting landscapes which are impossible within the human, mortal experience. This research will contribute to discussions of the relationships between both images and texts and Classics and Art History, creating a truly interdisciplinary discussion of ancient mythology. It will bring together discourses which have thus far remained distinct: textual and pictorial narrative techniques, ancient and modern mythological landscapes, and an in-depth analysis of the original text in the context of its later visual reception. It will take as its focus, not the subjects and figures of mythology, which we know so well, but rather the locations that host the narratives, locations which are far beyond the narrator’s experiences. Instead of matching up images of mythology to certain textual narratives, as if they are pure illustrations, this project will break down what it takes to tell a fantastical narrative and how this is translated into both images and texts. Are artists and poets coming from the same narrative starting point? How can they conjure up an image of a non-existent location? What does it mean to depict the fantastical?

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