December, 2016

201605Dec15:0015:50Daemonic Rhetoric: the Homeric Hymn to Hermes as Lyric Paradigm15:00 - 15:50

Event Details

A lecture by
Peter Zervos

When: Monday, December 5, 15:00 – 15:50

Where: Deree Faculty Lounge

Organized by: Faculty Research Seminars 2016-17 Series


Peter Zervos holds a PhD in English Literature with an emphasis on Renaissance poetry, poetics, and literary theory, and an MFA in Creative Writing with an emphasis on poetry, from Indiana University Bloomington.

His scholarly research focuses on issues of imitation, metaphor, allegory, representation, figurality and fictionality, as well as on power dynamics and modes of subjectivation in the poetry of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England. He is particularly interested in the influence of Platonism and Neoplatonism on poets such as Sidney, Spenser, Shakespeare, Donne, and Milton, and his critical approach is informed by theorists such as Michel Foucault and Giorgio Agamben. His dissertation on Plato and Shakespeare has a two-fold goal: to propose a mode of reading pre-Romantic lyric by reference to the narrative of the origin of lyric, the Homeric Hymn to Hermes, and to read Shakespeare’s Sonnets through the lens of the Platonic dialogues that focus on Eros (love/desire), mimesis (imitation/representation), eikos mythos (plausibility/likely story), and poiesis (poetry, in the general sense of “making”).

Peter Zervos has been working at Deree for three years. During this time, he has taught a wide variety of classes, ranging from the three writing courses, to courses on American and English literature, as well as a creative writing course which he has also designed. Furthermore, Dr. Zervos has taught in and designed courses for the International Honors Program.


The first chapter of my dissertation*,  titled “Daemonic Rhetoric: the Homeric Hymn to Hermes as Lyric Paradigm,” performs a close reading of the Hymn and proposes a redefinition of lyric poetry, in an attempt to move beyond various contemporary, typically post-Romantic conceptions of it. More specifically, it uses the Platonic notion of plausibility (eikos mythos), as an example of the ontological modality of the “between” (metaxy), and Giorgio Agamben’s theory on the paradigm (paradeigma) in order to argue that Hermes’ performances in the Hymn introduce, by way of example, a specific type of discourse, lyric discourse, that vacillates between truth and falsity, oath and blasphemy, epideixis and persuasion. Such a discourse moves and moves us in the gap/space between aesthesis and ethos, by placing aesthetic pleasure and persuasion in a simultaneously reciprocal relation. It clings to the phenomenality of language but also actively points at its context (para-deixis). Its “truth” is more of a function, and less of a positive presence. Its typical occasion-context is the symposium, and its mood that of convivial teasing and irresistible erotic desire. It is a performance that constitutively yokes speaker and addressee together, and collapses horizon of reception and subject-matter into one moment.

* The dissertation is titled Eros and Eikos Mythos: Love and Plausibility in Shakespeare’s Sonnets.