Spain-Greece Joint Teaching/Research

Maia Evrona

Maia Evrona

Poet, Prose Writer, Translator
MFA, Creative Writing, Bennington College, Bennington, VT, 2010

Maia Evrona is a poet, prose writer and translator of Yiddish (and occasionally Spanish) poetry. Her work has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Yiddish Book Center and elsewhere. She has published poems and translations in Prairie Schooner, North American Review, Poetry Magazine and elsewhere. Her prose on subjects ranging from the art of translation, to living with chronic illness, to financial support for the arts, has appeared in a number of other venues. She has been characterized as a representative of a “new generation of Yiddish poet-translators,” and has given readings of her work in the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Spain.

Superficially, Evrona’s work as a translator from Yiddish might seem to have little to do with Greece and Spain, where she will be completing her Fulbright project. Historically, however, both of these cultures exerted outsize and unique influence on the formation of Jewish poetic tradition, an influence that extends through the Yiddish poetry she translates. During her Fulbright year, she will be furthering that tradition through her own English-language poetry. She hopes that in doing so, she will help draw Yiddish poetry out of its status as a niche curiosity, and foster connection between modern Greek, Spanish and Jewish societies, as well as between Jewish communities.

Evrona was the inaugural recipient of this award in 2019, but her work was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. She is grateful for this rare opportunity to continue with a second award. She will be partnering with the Mozaika and Casa Adret Cultural Platform in Barcelona, the Three Cultures Foundation in Seville, and the Etz Hayyim Synagogue in Chania, Crete, giving readings of her poems and translations, as well as lectures on Yiddish poetry. She hopes her involvement with these cultural institutions, along with the writing she produces with the support of this award, will increase awareness of Jewish history and the Holocaust in Greece and Spain, and help to combat anti-semitism.

Virginia (Ginna) Closs

Virginia (Ginna) Closs

University of Massachusetts - Amherst, MA
Associate Professor, Classics

Ph.D., Classical Studies, University of Pennsylvania,
Philadelphia, PA, 2013

M. Phil., Classics, University of Cambridge, U.K., 2002
B.A., Classics, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, 2000

Virginia (Ginna) Closs is Associate Professor of Classics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her research in Classics focuses primarily on Latin literature and Roman cultural history during the early imperial period, with a particular interest in how Latin texts reflect notions of material culture, urban space, and temporality. Her first book, entitled While Rome Burned: Fire, Leadership, and Urban Disaster in the Roman Cultural Imagination (University of Michigan Press, 2020), examines the role of fire as a metaphor for political instability in literary texts from the mid-first century BCE through the early second century CE. She also recently completed work on a co-edited volume entitled Urban Disasters and the Roman Imagination (De Gruyter, 2020). The 2020-21 Spain-Greece Joint Teaching/Research Award, which was rescheduled to 2021-22, will support research and teaching related to Ginna’s next book project. Tentatively entitled Urbs/Orbis/Turba: Time, Space, and Text in Martial’s Poetic Empire, this book investigates the related issues of time, urban space, and textuality within the work of Martial, the prolific Latin poet most famous for his epigrams chronicling the highs and lows of life at the imperial capital in the late first century CE. Overall, during the early imperial period more efficient modes of communication extended Rome’s influence in the provinces, drawing an increasingly diverse range of ambitious strivers (including Martial himself) to the sprawling metropolis of Rome.

Ginna’s research highlights the cultural contributions that ancient Spain and Greece made to Martial’s formulation of his quintessentially “Roman” poetry. A major motif of Ginna’s study is Martial’s complex layering of the temporal and cultural landscapes of Rome, where he lived and worked for over three decades; the Greek literary tradition, which profoundly influenced his poetry’s style and content; and his native Spain, to which he returned at the end of his life after losing favor in Rome. Martial’s poems adapt the Greek tradition of literary epigram, a genre with deep connections to the physical environment, to the urban topography of first-century CE Rome as well as to the landscape of his home territory, the province of Hispania Tarraconensis. Accordingly, Ginna plans to spend time visiting and studying the Greek and Spanish locations that Martial mentions in his poetry, as well as examining examples of art and inscriptions related to his subject matter. Exploring the landscapes of ancient Spain and Greece is central to Ginna’s research, but she also very much looks forward to meeting and exchanging ideas with a number of distinguished scholars of imperial Latin literature at Greek and Spanish institutions. Two such scholars, Rosario Moreno Soldevila (Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Seville) and Sophia Papaioannou (National and Kapodistrian University, Athens) have generously invited Ginna to conduct her research and to present related material in classes and lectures at their institutions. She looks forward to this collaboration, and is eager to experience life in her two host countries.


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