On the one hand, hitherto discussions of literary theory in Germany have tended to pay surprisingly little attention to ancient literary texts. And on the other hand, although one might expect Classics to be especially interested in the implications of modern literary theories for the interpretation of ancient literature, nonetheless, at least in Germany, many Classicists seem to have viewed such theories rather more skeptically than their colleagues in other philologies.
The consequences are visible even today: many students who work on ancient literature in Germany seem to be relatively unaware of literary theoretical discussions, unless they have taken the trouble to find out about them themselves.
This is a tendency that I myself could not help but notice when I was a professor in Heidelberg during the 1990’s; and even though I left my German university position in 2001, I have seen very little evidence since then that could convince me that matters have changed very much.
Things tend to be rather different in the Anglo-American world, where critical discussions of the literary theoretical developments of the past century have been very productive and diverse, both in work on ancient texts and in Classics itself. To the degree that Classics understands itself also as a discipline that studies literature, it would seem indispensible for it to be concerned also with the theoretical bases for reading ancient literature. But not only does the 20th century offer a plethora of literary theoretical reflections and theories – so too did antiquity itself. I myself have always considered it an important part of my task, and of my pleasure, as a university teacher of Classics to make my students more familiar with the foundations of various literary theories by discussing with them significant theoretical texts from antiquity until the present.
A further desideratum that eisodos hopes to supply is the following: students in Anglo-American universities, already at a relatively young age, have many opportunities nowadays to practice the craft of scholarly publishing, for example in journals run by students for students. My impression is that such possibilities tend to be lacking in German language universities.
So I believe that eisodos is a very laudable project. For students who are interested in literary theory and ancient literature, it will provide a platform that will let them practice scholarly writing while they are still young enough to learn and to improve with comparative facility. The scientific committee that will evaluate potential contributions can be expected to provide assurance regarding their quality.
So I wish eisodos all the best. May it be only the first of many such academic ventures.
Glenn W. Most