Please tell us about your research project.
I am a third-year Ph-D student at Nantes Université for a joint Ph-D with Rome, La Sapienza. I am currently working on Greek Tragedy and its reception in the Renaissance, through the study of a specific character: Cassandra. This prophetic woman always tells the truth but is condemned to disbelief by the god Apollo – a tragic fate staged in Aeschylus’ Agamemnon and Euripides’ Trojan Women. Studying this character in the specific literary genre of tragedy leads to questioning the formation of a literary character in connection with the kind of text in which it features. In this case, the comparison between Antiquity and Renaissance is all the more interesting as the religious component reveals how Christian authors may have understood a pagan prophetess.
This literary study supposes a philological basis. At the beginning of the XVIth century, after a long period of transmission through manuscripts, Greek tragedy was printed for the first time. Once these texts diffused in Europe, scholars translate them into Latin, and then poets (reading the Latin translations more than the originals) adapt them in their native language. I study in particular French and Italian tragedies. It is crucial to know these specific texts in order to know exactly the words the readers of the time could read: in fact, the discovery of new manuscripts, especially for Aeschylus, induces some important changes in the Cassandra scene. My work then is to establish a dialogue between these heterogeneous texts (translations, rewritings), generally studied separately.
Could you please tell us a bit more about your scholarship/exchange programme?
Thanks to the Maison Française, I have the opportunity to study for one month in Oxford. Thus, I have access to the Bodleian Libraries. It is very exciting to study in these beautiful rooms, with so many resources at hand. In the Bodleian are conserved almost all the XVIth century editions of Greek tragedies and of Latin translations I need to consult for my Ph-D, and, if not, I can find them in the libraries of the Colleges. I also enjoy very much the Library of the Maison Française, very quiet, in which the residents can study whenever they want: it is the perfect place to proceed in the writing!
One month is short, but precisely the brevity of the stay encourages us to make the most of it. It is an intensive period, both in working and discovering!
First impressions of Oxford/the University?
There is some magic in the city! The centre and all the colleges struck by their beauty. The libraries are also very open: any Bodleian reader has access to the Radcliffe Camera or the Duke Humphrey Library and it is easier to access rare books than in France or Italy. I have always received a warm welcome in the libraries and the Colleges!
It is really fascinating to discover a world I knew only through books and films. The organization of the university and the colleges is very exotic for a French student. The academic is very intense: seminars (it has been very useful to follow one and compare with the french approach), conferences… It is incredible to see how many events take place every day on very different subjects. The offer is huge, maybe like in Paris, but in a city of 150,000 inhabitants. Everything lies within reach in this open-air university: beautiful museums, friendly pubs, and always a park or a green zone nearby for a walk. Oxford is certainly unique. It seems almost easy to be a genius here!