CC’s Anastasia Bakogianni caught up with Constanze Güthenke, Associate Professor of Classics and Hellenic Studies at Princeton University, during her visit to the UK. Constanze came to London to present a paper at the Encounters with Athens, Rome and Jerusalem: (Re)Visiting Sites of Textual Authority in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century conference organised by Professor Catherine Edwards at Birkbeck, University of London (1-2 July 2013).

Constanze talks about her new book project Greek Lives: German Classical Scholarship and the Language of Attachment, 1790-1920. She explains that German classical scholarship became the dominant model for academic and archaeological investigations of ancient Greece and Rome during this period. She tells us how her comparative approach arose out of her own educational background which combines a thorough training in Classics, with German and Modern Greek Studies. Constanze also talks about her interest in how academic disciplines are formed which is the research question that drives her current project. Secondary literature has become her primary source in her investigation of the German model.

Her interest in the reception of the classical past in Modern Greece is reflected in her first monograph Placing Modern Greece. The Dynamics of Romantic Hellenism, 1770-1840 (Oxford University Press, 2008) that interrogated the formation of the modern state and its dialogue with classical literature.

At the conference Constanze examined the German encounter with Modern Greece in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. German travellers and scholars came to the modern state seeking a connection to the classical past. The immediacy they sought was, however, complicated by the process of modernisation that they encountered. Their ambivalent response towards this modern reality found expression in their scholarly writings.

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