The Book as Performance: Theater, Written Works, and Textual Repositories in Ancient Greece

By John Senseney and Megan Finn.

Published by The International Journal of the Book

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This study focuses on the book's incipient Greek connection with performance and considers the role of performance in the textual repositories of the Hellenistic period. Against the Archaic and Classical background of writing as a recording of performed works (oral poetry, technical achievements, lectures, etc.), we address the inherent nature of the book as a vehicle for performance. In this regard, we isolate the literary development of Athenian drama for theoria – the witnessing of rituals of sacralized spectacle in the theater – as a model for Plato’s invention of “theory” through books as dialogue-driven performances. We argue that Plato’s appropriation of the vernacular and structure of theater situated the communal, listening audiences of his books, engendering their institutionalized participation through the collection and oral reading of books within ancient repositories.

Keywords: Classical Antiquity, Library History, Plato, Aristotle, Vitruvius, Performance, Theater

International Journal of the Book, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp.83-92. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.204MB).

John Senseney

Assistant Professor, Ph.D. Program in History and Theory, School of Architecture, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, USA

Assistant Professor in the History and Preservation unit of the School of Architecture at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Ph.D., History of Art and Architecture, University of California at Santa Barbara).

Megan Finn

Project Archivist, Library and Archives, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA, USA

Project Archivist at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (M.S., Library and Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign).

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