The American School of Classical Studies at Athens

Videocast: Vassilis Vassilikos (Author). “Λογοτεχνία και τεχνολογία.”

On November 29, author Vassilis Vassilikos presented a fascinating lecture on “Literature and Technology.”

A native of the northern Greek island of Thasos, Vassilikos grew up in Kavalla and Thessaloniki, where he graduated from law school before moving to Athens to work as a journalist. Because of his political activities he was forced into exile following the 1967 military coup. He spent the next seven years of his life in Italy, France, and the U.S. (New York). He studied TV Direction at the School of Radio and Television in New York, and at Yale University. From 1981 to 1984 Vassilikos served as general manager of the Greek state television, ERT. He has also served as Greece’s ambassador to UNESCO (1996-2004). He has worked as an assistant director in foreign productions, as a documentary filmmaker, screenwriter, screenplay editor, journalist, writer, and as an actor. Vassilikos is a prolific author whose books have been widely translated. He has published more than 120 books, including novels, plays, and poetry. Some of the most well known titles are ‘The Monarch’, ‘And Dreams Are Dreams’, ‘The Photographs’, ‘The Plant, the Well, the Angel’, ‘The Coroner’s Assistant’, ‘The Harpoon Gun’, and ‘The Few Things I Know About Glafkos Thrassakis’. His best known work is the political novel Z (1967), which has been translated into thirty-two languages and was the basis of the award-winning film Z directed by Costa Gavras.

The author’s lecture in Cotsen Hall explored the seemingly contradictory notions of literature and technology that manage to coexist harmoniously on the internet. He elaborated on the traps that can undermine this coexistence, and focused on the influence of technological developments on literature taking his cue from the works of Regis Debray (“the medium creates the message”) and Marshall McLuhan (“the message is the medium”). He argued that the term “literature” encompasses different notions of authorial presence –of a poet, a novelist or a critic – and allows multiplicity of vision, while “technology” brings together various disciplines by unifying them. He demonstrated that the advent of digital technology has changed radically the very reality of life and creation for the litterateur; it remains to be proven whether this is for better or for worse.

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This year the Gennadius Library would like to thank Lloyd E. Cotsen and Margit Cotsen for their generous support.