EENS Prize 2018 for Best Dissertation in Modern Greek Studies awarded to Bart Soethaert

EXC 2020 "Temporal Communities" is proud to report that Dr. Bart Soethaert, research-track Postdoc in Research Area 5, received the Prize for Best Dissertation 2018 for his work The turn towards the 'present-past'. Horizons of the historical novel (1935–1950) in Greece.

News from Oct 10, 2019

The European Society of Modern Greek Studies (EENS) established two new prizes for 2018: One for best monograph and another for best published dissertation by researchers based outside Greece or Cyprus. EXC 2020 "Temporal Communities" is proud to report that Dr. Bart Soethaert, research-track Postdoc in Research Area 5, received the Prize for Best Dissertation 2018 for his work The turn towards the 'present-past'. Horizons of the historical novel (1935–1950) in Greece (Η στροφή προς το παρ‹ελθ›όν. Ορίζοντες του ιστορικού μυθιστορήματος (1935–1950) στην Ελλάδα). The dissertation was published by the Edition Romiosini/CeMoG and is available as both a printed edition (ISBN: 978-3-946142-52-2) and for online reading in the Digital Library of the Edition Romiosini.

The book reassesses the commonplace assumption among critics and philologists that the so-called 'turn towards the past' took place in modern Greek literature as a consequence of the installation of the Metaxas-Dictatorship of August 4th, 1936 and developed mainly along the lines of anti-western, anti-modern aesthetic nationalism. Similarly, the patriotic ethnocentrism of the historical novels, written by young novelists of the 1930s – including Angelos Terzakis (1907–1979), Pantelis Prevelakis (1909–1986) and Thanasis Petsalis (1904–1995) – is often considered responsible for the alleged ‘traditionalism’ of their literary form.

Soethaert’s work, as the first lengthy study on the literary and ideological horizons of the historical novel (1935–1950) in Greece, reveals that the theoretical conceptualization of the historical novel was a process contemporaneous with, and doubtlessly determined by, the modernizing impetus of formal innovation and new subject matter during the 1930s and 1940s. It aligned with the same strategy for the formal and epistemological rethinking of realism through dense interactions with contemporary novels of other European literatures — a project already signaled by Theotokas' programmatic 'manifesto' Free Spirit (Ελεύθερο πνεύμα, 1929). The above-mentioned authors recombined and tailored several genres of 'modern' novels (like the ‘adventure novel’, the ‘Bildungsroman’, the 'city novel', the 'collective novel', the 'roman-fleuve' and the 'family saga' novel) for their needs and implemented an updated historicist setup by which the semantics of historical time are constantly under negotiation: present sensibilities invoke the past in order to reflect on present issues and turn it into a vivid 'present-past'.

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