Individual projects in AncNar - Luuk Huitink

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The research project "Experience and Teleology in Ancient Narrative" (AncNar) is funded by a Starting Grant awarded by the European Research Council (ERC) (FP7) 01.02.2013-31.01.2018 under grant agreement n°312321

Visions of Vividness

Ancient criticism and rhetoric, as preserved in treatises, scholia, model speeches and progymnasmata as well as metaliterary remarks, often refer to the experiential quality of narrative. Key terms used to denote the readers’ involvement in narrative as prompted by the quality of the language used in it include enargeia, energeia, enagōnios and pro ommatōn tithesthai (as well as their Latin equivalents). While this aspect of ancient literary theory has received considerable attention in recent scholarship, there is still a need for a study which establishes a typology of the application of such terms, which are used to draw attention to phenomena of ‘figured language’ as varied as detailed descriptions, metaphors and similes, spatial and temporal deixis, tense usage, direct address, reported speech, sound effects, repetition and the creation of suspense through the manipulation of time. The project of Luuk Huitink aims to establish such a typology, and takes this as a point of departure for inquiring further into the theories of linguistic communication which underpin ancient rhetorical practice and so unify the at first sight disparate range of phenomena that come under the heading of enargeia etc. As part of this inquiry, modern pragmatic theories of the sources of ‘vividness’ in narrative and description, which variously emphasize the ‘lifelike’, ‘vigorous’ or ‘immersive’ aspects of ‘vividness’, are invoked to shed light on ancient criticism and vice versa. Furthermore, the project aims to establish the place of the kind of reader involvement denoted by enargeia within the wider field of ancient aesthetics, showing that it was valued highly in certain genres and types of discourse but not necessarily in others and comparing competing concepts of ‘vividness’. It is noticeable, for instance, that in the influential re-ordering of rhetoric by Hermogenes there is little room left for enargeia. Part of its functions are taken over by the concept of gorgotēs, which presupposes a rather different (more linear and less pictorial) way of processing texts. Finally, by giving a nuanced account of the role which ancient theory expects the reader to play in creating an immersive reception experience, the study of Luuk Huitink intends to counterbalance some recent trends in classical scholarship which tend to stress the intellectual aspects of reading ancient texts.

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Letzte Änderung: 14.03.2018
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