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Sunday March 17 | Session 13:15 - 14:45 (20 min)University Theatre Building | University Theatre
My paper considers the possibility that we underestimate Orpheus by pinning our idea of him to the critical stages of his mythographic arc (the death of Eurydice, the promising phase of his quest to retrieve her from Hades, the end of this promise, his dismemberment at the hands of the Maenads, etc...). In order to assign him a different order of dignity—in order, specifically, to celebrate him as a clown—I will present a sketch of the Orphic Scene that casts aside such tragic determinants and concentrates on the ambiguous root-situation of a bardic figure commanding freakish degrees of attention by means of song.

My aim is to probe an array of mimetic catastrophes that inhere in scenes of “irresistible song”, that is, in scenes where lyric charm is coded as omnipotent. Though Orpheus is readily identified as an agent of lyrical intoxication, I will propose that he is perhaps better construed as a weirdo ambassador of a fundamentally higher source of intoxication.

This other Orpheus, I will show, is forever confessing his impotence cryptically and reverentially—and in ways that relate to the Eurydicean debacle only incidentally.

Dylan Godwin works in Vancouver, British Columbia and is completing his PhD in Comparative Literature at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
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