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Transformations of Scylla and Charybdis: Encounters with Otherness and Ancient Greek Myth in Post-Classical Perspective

Carbone, Marco Benoît; (2018) Transformations of Scylla and Charybdis: Encounters with Otherness and Ancient Greek Myth in Post-Classical Perspective. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

This is a study of contemporary uses of the myth of Scylla and Charybdis, often personified as female monstrosities or explained as a rock and whirlpool in Italy’s Strait of Reggio and Messina. Focusing on theoretical, methodological, and disciplinary issues of historical transmission, it addresses media appropriations of these signifiers of Greco-Roman traditions, as well as abject femininity, animality, and Otherness. Nineteenth-century European travellers visited the Strait in search of the landmarks of Homer’s Odyssey. The area attracted the travellers’ antiquarian appreciation of the myth-place and its relation with legends of marine dangers, a narrative that later reached broader audiences through twentieth-century international tourism and media. In parallel, Scylla and Charybdis were popularized as monstrous figures in the imaginaries of travel, horror, fantasy, and erotica. Drawing on deconstructive approaches to myth studies, the thesis analyses the Scylla and Charybdis motif in the broader context of ideas about antiquity in historiographical, psychoanalytic, and positivist perspectives. Looking at under- researched media, such as travel literature, role playing and video games, and pornographic iconography, the study shows how the monsters embodied imagined encounters with the abject, the marvellous, the other-than-self, and the other-than- now. Extending critiques of Greco-Roman history’s exceptionalism developed within reception and cultural studies, the thesis conceptualizes antiquity as a series of reciprocal impacts between the present and the past, and it discusses the pliability of the myth figures and the variety of purposes they served. Ethnographic research in the Strait, presented through an accompanying Documentary Film, demonstrates how the figures became local symbols of selectively philhellenic local histories.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Transformations of Scylla and Charybdis: Encounters with Otherness and Ancient Greek Myth in Post-Classical Perspective
Event: UCL (University College London)
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10041061
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