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Literary myths in mixed reality

Frontiers in Digital Humanities,

Abstract: It is well-known that the Decadent movement in European literature (fin de siècle) depends on the narrative of the antiquity, as it is revealed from the discoveries of archeology in the second half of the nineteenth century. Amid the ruins of the past authors, painters and poets re-conceptualize time and history through a modernist vision based on an imaginary reconfiguration of the antiquity. In this context, the myth of a city (Pompeii) or of a woman (Salomé) offer examples that would illustrate in a great variety the synergy of a multi-temporal and multi-cultural memory of the myth. In this paper we identify a “content-based” shortcoming of modern Mixed Reality (MR) intangible and tangible digital heritage storytelling applications for digital humanities. It is an important problem as the very nature of these applications has often been identified with either misguided storytelling, or non-compelling, non-engaging narratives, except the initial captivating moments due to the immersive 3D visual simulation. We propose a new concept that forthcoming MR applications can draw from: “Literature-based MR Presence.” Based on modern literature excerpts associated with the real heritage sites, digital narratives can achieve new depths of Presence (phenomenon of behaving and feeling, as if we are in the virtual/augmented world created by computerized displays). They would evoke deeper sensations if their dramaturgical plots were based on literary texts associated with the heritage sites, from users, as similar to those often associated with cognitive presence, e.g., when someone is feeling of being transported in an alternate reality when simply reading a compelling novel or poem. We examine modern MR simulations and serious games for digital heritage and propose this conceptual framework to study them under this new concept, in order to achieve heightened feeling of Presence in the virtual heritage simulations, based on recent novel h/w advances. Two cases of a tangible historical place (Pompeii) and an intangible character (Salome) are identified as cultural heritage items, with associated reconstruction examples via Mixed Reality simulations and corresponding early modern literary works.

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Kyoritsu Women’s University & Greek-Japanese Association: Invited Talk on Cavafy

IMG_0089Martha Vassiliadi, “LADIES PORTRAITS FROM A NON-LADIES MAN: WOMEN IN CAVAFY’S POETRY”, Invited Talk, Kyoritsu Women’s University & Greek-Japanese Association, 6th November 2015, Tokyo, Japan.

Abstract: It is always perplexing, almost vain to present the main aspects of Cavafy’s poetry in a large audience and in this always difficult process, there is this liberating phrase that E.M. Forster, one of the poets first British admirers pronounced, after meeting him during World War I. Recognizing immediately Cavafy’s « uniqueness », Forster simply and accurately said that « the poet stood at a slight angle at the universe ». In these words which became since a descriptive cliché, the story of Cavafy’s life, a rather common, unadventurous life meets the myth. The myth of a Greek poet of Alexandria at the end of the tumultuous 19th century, a poet who dared to invent a new historical consciousness and who dared to express in a postromantic and conservative era a (homosexual) strategy of erotic liberation. The title of tonight’s lecture seems as a fake dilemma or almost sacrilege, since it is well known how Cavafy did not love the “weak” sex, how he rejected the post romantic voluptuousness of his time and how he wasn’t inspired by passions and mythical separations. But how and from what poetic passage Cavafy slips, even “imperceptibly” in the ontological cosmology of Women ? How and by what virtue women gain a place in Cavafy’s ritual of historical construction, how do they fit in this highly erotic gay scenery?

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