Last Update: 21-v-2005
For Ted Hughes, Poet Laureate (1984 – 98), at once man of letters and man of the soil, classical literature, myth and history were regular sources of inspiration. His varied engagement with the classical legacy endured throughout his career, and realised translations/adaptations of Greek and Roman drama and epic, and many collections and individual poems founded on classical sources, such as myth or material remains. Such directly classical subjects include versions of Seneca’s Oedipus (1968), Euripides’ Alcestis (1999), Aeschylus’ Oresteia trilogy (1999), Homer’s Odyssey (1960) and Tales from Ovid (1997); the classical myths that underlie these works occur elsewhere in Hughes’ oeuvre, such as his poems ›Everyman’s Odyssey‹ (1960), ›Song for a Phallus‹ and ›Oedipus Crow‹ (1970), ›Actaeon‹ (1979) and ›Hidden Orestes‹ (1998). Works with a less direct but equally clear relationship with classical origins are the collection Prometheus on his Crag (1973) and the translation of Racine’s Phèdre. Further, Hughes frequently found voice within established classical genres, such as pastoral (in, for example, his Season Songs (1976) and River (1983), elegy (in Birthday Letters (1998)) and epideictic (in his laureate verse). Classical forms and subjects hold a central place in Hughes’ work and constitute an exciting and coherent subject for analysis of one of the most haunting voices of the 20th century.
Six years after his death, the conference »Ted Hughes and the Classics« seeks to explore and celebrate this multiform aspect of his work. A conference is planned to appeal to a wide range of interests in poetics and reception – invited speakers include Classicists and critics of English literature and drama. With this deliberately broad range, we hope there will be fruitful exchange across the disciplines, and the optimal means to achieving a representative evaluation of Hughes’ place and role within modern literary culture.
The conference will combine plenary lectures and shorter papers. Confirmed speakers include Sarah Brown, Alison Burke, Christine Finn, Stuart Gillespie, Edith Hall, Lorna Hardwick, Adrian Poole, Neil Roberts, Felicity Rosslyn, Barrie Rutter, Keith Sagar and Michael Silk. We hope that in addition to traditional hospitality, the conference will also feature performance of some of Hughes’ relevant work, be it drama or recitation. There will also be opportunity to enjoy the rich offerings of Edinburgh, one of north Europe’s most popular cultural centres.
We intend to prepare a selection of papers for publication.
Proposals are invited for papers of 20 minutes on any subject within the theme of Ted Hughes and the Classics; please submit proposed titles with an abstract of c .300 words to Dr. Roger Rees, School of History and Classics, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH 8 9 JX or by e-mail to R.D.Rees <at > ed.ac.uk by 30th June .