Ventriloquism and the biographical voice - Trojans (1989) by Connie Giannaris

Holdsworth, Claire M. (2017) Ventriloquism and the biographical voice - Trojans (1989) by Connie Giannaris. In: Annual Meeting of the American Comparative Literature Association; 06 – 09 Jul 2017, Utrecht, Netherlands. (Unpublished)


As a means of considering the complex ways in which we approach historical and/or literary subjects, this paper focussed on the 1989 documentary Trojans: A Life of Constantine Cavafy 1863–1933 by British/Greek filmmaker Constantine Giannaris. In narrating the life and work of the Greek-Alexandrian poet Cavafy, this short film uses English speaking voiceovers, differing types of archival sources and re-enacted staged scenes, creating evocative but unstable audio-visual representations that echo the complex historical retrospection and multi-lingual registers in Cavafy’s poems. By exploring narrative voices as both written and sounded phenomena, the paper explored how ‘counter-histories’ are re-inscribed through archival material, which complicates historical iteration. Analysis of Trojans centred on what Steven Connor terms the ‘ventriloquial voice’ disconnected from source (2000, p.7) along with Mladen Dolar’s notion that the voice exists in a state of ‘inclusion/exclusion which retains the excluded at its core’ (2006, p.106). Following on from these analyses, the paper considered how the voice – as an external manifestation separated from source – mirrors Cavafy’s poems and Giannaris’ dense audio-visual collage.

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