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|
Assistant Professor, Ph.D. Program in History and Theory, School of Architecture, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, USA
Project Archivist, Library and Archives, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA, USA
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