Transformative Change in Western Thought
A History of Metamorphosis from Homer to Hollywood

Edited by Ingo Gildenhard and Andrew Zissos

Legenda (General Series)

Legenda

4 March 2013  •  538pp

ISBN: 978-1-907975-01-1 (hardback)  •  RRP £75, $99, €85

ClassicsArtFilmPhilosophyTheology


This ground-breaking volume maps the shifting place and function of transformative change in the Western imaginary from antiquity to the present day. Shape-shifting, species crossing, transubstantiation, metamorphic magic, and mutation recur and echo throughout ancient and modern writing and thinking, and have continued in science fiction as tales of a newly empowered humanity manipulating the building blocks of life.

The idea of metamorphosis lies in uneasy coexistence with orderly world-views, and it is often cast out, or attributed to delusional, mad, or demonic impulses. Shape-shifting is considered ungodly by Augustine and the church fathers. Alchemy is censured as unscientific by Enlightenment thinkers. ‘Promethean’ experiments in creating new life are condemned as unnatural and dangerous by modern critics. Yet the very possibility of radical transformation continues to inspire hope as much as fear.

A provocative, theorizing, trans-cultural history, this book ranges across classics, art history, literature, philosophy, theology and film studies. A general introduction and three historical surveys are combined with twelve case studies to show the malleable, yet persistent, presence of metamorphosis throughout Western cultural history, from Homer and Ovid to Shakespeare, Proust and H. P. Lovecraft, and through figures such as Proteus, the Golden Ass, Kafka’s insect and The Fly.

Ingo Gildenhard is a Lecturer in Classics at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of King’s College. Andrew Zissos is a Professor of Classics at the University of California, Irvine.

Reviews:

  • ‘This audacious volume is concerned with nothing less than the almost 3000-year metamorphosis of the concept of metamorphosis in the Western imaginary... A most compelling entry in the history of ideas.’ — Dan Curley, Bryn Mawr Classical Review online, 2014.09.41
  • ‘The volume is exciting, enjoyable as well as serious, and therefore not only suggestive for future research but also set to be useful in teaching. I would happily assign relevant portions of it in courses on classical traditions and receptions. Whether in the classroom or elsewhere, it deserves to reach a large audience.’ — Benjamin Eldon Stevens, American Journal of Philology 135.3, Fall 2014, 492-96

Contents:

1-34
General Introduction: Metamorphosis — A Phenomenology
Ingo Gildenhard, Andrew Zissos
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Part I: Antiquity and Archetypes
36-87
Introduction to Part I
Ingo Gildenhard, Andrew Zissos
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88-130
The Transformations of Ovid’s Medea (Metamorphoses vii. 1–424)
Ingo Gildenhard, Andrew Zissos
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131-152
Lynx-stone and Coral: ‘Liquid Rocks’ between Natural History and Myths of Transformation
Sonia Macrì
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153-162
Proteus and Protean Epic: From Homer to Nonnos
Manuel Baumbach
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163-182
Arboreal Myths: Dryadic Transformations, Children’s Literature, and Fantastic Trees
Zoe Jaques
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Part II: Christianity and Classicizing
184-221
Introduction to Part II
Ingo Gildenhard, Andrew Zissos
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222-251
Of Donkeys and D(a)emons: Metamorphosis and the Literary Imagination from Apuleius to Augustine
Robert H. F. Carver
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252-272
Adonis as Citrus Tree: Humanist Transformations of an Ancient Myth
Carlo Caruso
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273-306
Defacing God’s Work: Metamorphosis and the ‘Mimicall Asse’ in the Age of Shakespeare
Robert H. F. Carver
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307-330
Phantastica Mutatio: Johann Weyer’s Critique of the Imagination as a Principle of Natural Metamorphosis
Guido Giglioni
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Part III: Science: From the ‘Post-Metamorphic’ to the Posthuman
332-387
Introduction to Part III
Ingo Gildenhard, Andrew Zissos
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388-414
‘Our Mind Is the Ancient Proteus’: Proust, the Poets, and the Sea
Francesca Spiegel
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415-425
‘Horror in a Covered Platter’: H. P. Lovecraft and the Transformation of Petronius
Luke Pitcher
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426-439
Transforming the Experience of War in the Fiction of Marcel Aymé, René Barjavel and Michel Tournier
Christopher Lloyd
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440-452
The Parabola Paradox: Transformation and Science Fiction
Sarah Annes Brown
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453-455
Epilogue
Ingo Gildenhard, Andrew Zissos
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Bibliography entry:

Gildenhard, Ingo, and Andrew Zissos (eds), Transformative Change in Western Thought: A History of Metamorphosis from Homer to Hollywood (Cambridge: Legenda, 2013)

First footnote reference: 35 Transformative Change in Western Thought: A History of Metamorphosis from Homer to Hollywood, ed. by Ingo Gildenhard and Andrew Zissos (Cambridge: Legenda, 2013), p. 21.

Subsequent footnote reference: 37 Gildenhard and Zissos, p. 47.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

Bibliography entry:

Gildenhard, Ingo, and Andrew Zissos (eds). 2013. Transformative Change in Western Thought: A History of Metamorphosis from Homer to Hollywood (Cambridge: Legenda)

Example citation: ‘A quotation occurring on page 21 of this work’ (Gildenhard and Zissos 2013: 21).

Example footnote reference: 35 Gildenhard and Zissos 2013: 21.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)


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