The Center for Greek Studies at SFSU promotes the multi-disciplinary study of the language, literature, history, and culture of classical, post-classical, and contemporary Greece. It holds several rich collections and archives related to this mission that pertain in particular to: the Greek diaspora and the Greek American experience in the Bay Area; Greek oral histories; the life and work of renowned Greek author Nikos Kazantzakis; and Greek literature, history and anthropology. All materials housed in the Center are non-circulating.
The Humanities building is located on Tapia Drive; a campus map can be consulted here: https://www.sfsu.edu/~sfsumap/graphics/sfsu_map_color.pdf
A Call for Change
The Center for Greek Studies at San Francisco State University stands in solidarity with all who have suffered and continue to suffer the damaging and deadly effects of systemic racism, social and cultural subjection, and unequal access to life chances. We acknowledge the active role academia has long played in producing and sustaining such inequities, and we call for engaged resistance to and reconfiguration of these structures; action and education are essential to the effort. With a view to the latter, we reproduce here a handful of resources thoughtfully compiled by the Modern Greek Studies Association Transnational Studies Committee and generously distributed by Dr. Yiorgos Anagnostou. May these deepen our understanding and accelerate long overdue change.
--Alexandra Pappas, Director, Center for Greek Studies
From the desk of the MGSA Transnational Studies Committee:
The urgency of these days provides the context to learn about Greek Americans in connection to African Americans
Sources: Documentaries, novels, short stories, autobiography, biography, commentaries, book reviews, scholarship
- Mini-documentary, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DziGTSRMQic&t=193s
- Dan Georgakas, "Black Metropolis," chapter in his book, My Detroit: Growing Up Greek and American in Motor City; review by Nicholas Alexiou, https://muse.jhu.edu/article/475991/pdf
- George Pelecanos, The Turnaround; for a review see, http://immigrations-ethnicities-racial.blogspot.com/…/greek…
- Harry Mark Petrakis, A Tale of Color; for commentary see, http://www.newdiaspora.com/a-tale-of-color/
Do established immigrants and their offspring have any ethical and political responsibility toward America? This question recurs with urgency in the writings of several Greek American authors, including Harry Mark Petrakis. A well-known storyteller, Petrakis is particularly invested in this issue, drawing inspiration from his parents’ deep appreciation for their acceptance in the United States. As the beneficiaries of America’s magnanimity, the “sons and daughters of immigrants, grandsons and granddaughters of immigrants,” he implores, “must renew and fulfill” the vision of America as a sanctuary of difference.
To highlight his vision of ethnic responsibility toward American diversity, Petrakis crafts a story – entitled “A Tale of Color” – based on a real life event experienced by his mother, Presbytera Petrakis. The author, who often heard his mother recite this life in a family setting, turns it into a harrowing narrative dramatizing the human cost of racial exclusion.
- Apollo Papafrangou, https://www.apollopapafrangou.net/category/african-american/
- Yiorgos Anagnostou, "Do the Right Thing: Identities as Citizenship in U.S. Orthodox Christianity and Greek America." https://ergon.scienzine.com/art…/articles/do-the-right-thing
- George Lipsitz, Midnight at the Barrelhouse: The Johnny Otis Story https://www.upress.umn.edu/…/bo…/midnight-at-the-barrelhouse
- Athanasios Grammenos, https://www.thenationalherald.com/…/the_late_archbishop_ia…/
Can Studying Classics Encourage Empathy and Equity?
Nina Papathanasopoulou's Society for Classical Studies (SCS) blog exploring this question can be found here, including a review of the Center's Conversations with Homer event, which was supported by a Classics Everywhere grant from the SCS: https://classicalstudies.org/scs-blog/nina-papathanasopoulou/blog-can-studying-classics-encourage-empathy-and-equity.
Scholarship Program for SF State Students Studying the Modern Greek Language
The Modern Greek Studies Foundation will present up to $5,000 in direct grants to students at San Francisco State University who successfully complete the second semester of Modern Greek language (MGS 151) in the Spring 2020 Semester. Individual awards of up to $500 will be made upon faculty confirmation that the student has successfully earned the equivalent of a “C” grade or better in the course.
First Scholarship Recipients, Spring 2020:
I love studying modern Greek because I love traveling in Greece and because I want to be more fluent when I speak to the people. Please wish me fair winds on my journey to Ithaca.
I am writing stories based on the Iliad and the Odyssey retold for modern times, I would like the language of these stories to be natural and perfect Greek. If you wish, I will provide you stories (or even a play) from time to time. But please recall the ancient custom of serving the poet dinner.
I have a Muse who is always at my side. She is beautiful, smart, and independent. But she is bashful. She will come out of her cloud when she knows you better.
I am very grateful to be receiving a scholarship from the Modern Greek Studies Foundation. The reason I became interested in taking Modern Greek is that I had planned to visit Greece this summer. I thought it would be a great opportunity to take advantage of the Modern Greek courses offered at SFSU to learn Greek for my trip. I enjoy learning different languages and believe that learning a language allows me to become informed and understanding about the people who speak it. While learning the language, I was able to not only learn Modern Greek but also learn about Greek culture and customs which I find to be very valuable. Although I will not be able to visit Greece this summer, I was able to improve on a new language and hope to use Greek soon.
When I think of Greece, I think of home. I can hear cicadas buzzing in the afternoon heat, smell the bread my yiayia is taking out of the oven, feel the salt on my skin after I finish swimming. I learned Greek as a child, running around the village of Gargalianoi with friends and sitting in the plateia with my family. Being able to continue studying Greek as an adult now at San Francisco State University was an unexpected blessing while working on my graduate degree; so many schools only offer Ancient Greek, and I was thrilled to see Modern Greek on the course listings. We learn best when we are surrounded by others, and I am so thankful for the year I spent learning Greek from Professor Dimetra Armenakis with fellow students.
My interest in modern Greek has been that my dad’s side of the family is from Greece and my aunts and uncles speak fluent Greek. Sometimes they spoke Greek with each other and I was curious about what they said. I also live with my Yiayia and her native language is Greek so I was hoping that learning a little bit would make communication easier. Additionally, I am a history major and my big interest has been the ancient Mediterranean where Greece plays a big part. Learning modern Greek would hopefully translate to being able to learn some ancient Greek to read primary sources.
It has been my great pleasure and delight to have the opportunity to study Modern Greek at San Francisco State University. From my earliest memories of the Greek dance shoes given me by my Greek godmother, and the book of "Greek Myths and Enchantment Tales" by Margaret Evans Price, I have been enthralled with Greek language and culture. Greek is simply the most beautiful language on Earth!!! I was fortunate to travel to Greece in May of 1990 and to be able to visit Athens, Delphi, Eleusis, Epidaurus, Korinthos, Crete, and visit the birthplace of Sappho on the island of Lesbos. I look forward very much to the lifting of travel bans and the ability to travel to Greece and complete my Odyssey around all the islands.
Conversations with Homer
This event, hosted by the Center for Greek Studies at San Francisco State University, is meant to be bridge-building: between ancient and modern; between text and sound and image; between academic disciplines; between campus and the broader, local community. It includes both a collaborative, interdisciplinary performance on March 2 shaped by engagement with the Iliad, an ancient Greek epic poem composed by Homer over 2,500 years ago, and the production of a chapbook shaped by student engagement with the performance itself.
Homer’s Iliad is about duty and honor and war and anger and grief and brotherhood. It stages these universal themes on the shores of ancient Troy during the final days of a 10-year war between the Greeks and the Trojans. There is tremendous loss on both sides, and love and heroism and valor, too.
In the Conversations with Homer performance, contemporary musicians and student poets and translators continue a dialogue with Homer’s Iliad on these essential and enduring themes. The result is newly commissioned musical and poetic responses that cross disciplines and genres and sustain the relevance of these experiences and their artistic expression.
Student artists who attend the performance will in turn produce images in response to the performance. These images will be joined with the student translations to produce a Conversations with Homer chapbook—something material to accompany the ephemeral musical performance, and to contribute to the long artistic tradition initiated by Homer.
Department of Classics
Department of Comparative and World Literature
Program in Comics Studies
Program in Modern Greek Studies
School of Art
School of Humanities and Liberal Studies
School of Music
Support for the event was also provided by a generous Classics Everwhere grant from the Society for Classical Studies.
Monday, March 2nd; doors 4:30, performance 5 PM
Knuth Hall, Creative Arts Building, San Francisco State University
Campus map: https://www.sfsu.edu/~sfsumap/graphics/sfsu_map_color.pdf
Joe Goodkin, voice & guitar
Ellie Falaris Ganelin, flute
Lewis Patzner, cello
Ariel Wang, voice & violin
The San Francisco-based Greek Chamber Music Project and Chicago-based singer/songwriter Joe Goodkin come together in a special collaboration to premiere an original song adaptation of Homer’s Iliad commissioned by the Center for Greek Studies at San Francisco State University. Conversations with Homer is a series of first-person songs that capture the horror, grief, and love that permeate Homer's epic poem and the combat experience. The hour-long program will consist of songs written by Goodkin and arranged by Ellie Ganelin (of GCMP), as well as spoken-word pieces and student translations of Homer’s ancient Greek and Vergil’s Latin poetry.
The Greek Chamber Music Project (GCMP) is an arts presenter and record label devoted to the music of Greek composers, shedding light on little-known chamber music works, as well as revisiting popular songs in a fresh way. As a record label, it has several releases to its name, including “Hellenic Song: A Musical Migration” and “The Moon is Red: A Tribute to Manos Hadjidakis,” which feature a diverse selection of classical works and reimagined popular songs for piano, flute, violin, and voice. Past performance venues have included the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Hellenic Center in Washington, D.C., the Hellenic Community of Vancouver (Canada), as well as Kerrytown Concert House (Ann Arbor, Michigan). GCMP has collaborated with the Embassy of Greece in the United States and has received support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the University of Michigan, San Francisco State University, and Hellenic Society Prometheas. greekchambermusic.com
Joe Goodkin is a Chicago-based musician and songwriter. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Wisconsin--Madison with a Bachelor’s Degree in Classics. Since 2002, Joe has been traveling the United States as a modern bard performing his one-man folk opera retelling of Homer’s Odyssey to high school, college, and general audiences, nearly 300 performances at such institutions as Harvard, Brown, UC-Berkeley, Stanford, and more. In 2020, he will complete his odyssey to perform his folk opera in all 50 US states, and embark on a month-long tour of Europe to include performances in The United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Italy, Greece, Sweden, and The Netherlands. www.joesodyssey.com; www.thebluesofachilles.com
Very special thanks to award-winning artist John Mavroudis, who created the event poster http://www.zenpop.com/
Joe Goodkin, Alexandra Pappas
Selections from the performance of Conversations with Homer, from March 2, 2020, can be found online:
Don't You Be Afraid My Friend https://youtu.be/P-9BzNETuaA
Hands of Grief: https://youtu.be/oY6cgxoKm-U
Wrong From Right: https://youtu.be/sRBHd2dqWjU
The War Lullaby: https://youtu.be/Rf0_HzYyWSc
The Goodbye Lullaby: https://youtu.be/pqK9iXK2Rk0
Right From Wrong: https://youtu.be/mcKrflDhER0
Further information about the performance can be found at http://greekstudies.sfsu.edu/events/2020/02/03/277