Chairman's Report 2013-14

At the Annual General Meeting of the Society on 17 May 2014 the Chairman gave the following report:

As usual, I shall report on activities during the twelve-month period since the last AGM, and also mention some forthcoming events and our hopes and plans for the year ahead.
Our guest speaker after last year’s AGM, on 1 June, was Professor Thanos Veremis, Professor Emeritus of Political history at the University of Athens, who spoke on “The Greek Crisis: when the segmentary community meets with populism”. His lecture attracted a large audience and was followed by a lively question and answer session. If you missed it, you can still view it on the Society’s website.
Activities in the course of the year followed the, by now, established pattern: the annual postgraduate research colloquium, which in 2013 was held at Oxford University, and two or three other events organized by the Society, alone or in collaboration with other bodies. First the graduate colloquium: we are indebted to Prof. Marc Lauxtermann for convening this important opportunity for postgraduates to present their work in progress. On this occasion ten papers were given, notable for the range of subjects and disciplines represented, and particularly for the welcome attention paid to interdisciplinary approaches. Speakers came from the universities of Birmingham, Exeter, and Oxford, and King’s College London.
The next event in our calendar, in July 2013, was a conference on Contemporary Greek Cinema Cultures, held at the Hellenic Centre. The Society was a co-sponsor of the conference, along with the Universities of Reading and Glasgow, and the convenors were our members Tonia Kazakopoulou, Mikela Fotiou and Philip Phillis. It may be worth pointing out here that the Society is delighted to have the opportunity to lend its name to such academic gatherings organized by its members, and, where appropriate, to make a small contribution to the costs.
During the autumn we were involved in organizing two events, one in Cambridge and one in Oxford. In Cambridge we collaborated with the Modern Greek Section of the Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages to organize an evening of poetry and music to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Cavafy’s birth. The event was part of a world-wide series of events presented by the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sport, under the rubric "Celebrating C.P. Cavafy: 1863-1933". Professor David Ricks gave an introductory talk, and he was followed to the podium by the writer Louis de Bernières, a life-long devotee of Cavafy. There were readings of selected poems, in the original and in translation, by Patrick Boyde, Anastasia Christophilopoulou, Victoria Hislop and Christos Tsirogiannis. The evening concluded with a performance of settings for baritone and piano of three Cavafy poems by the contemporary composer Robert Walker. About 120 people attended, and the organizers were Liana Giannakopoulou and Regina Karousou-Fokas.
A rather smaller audience was present for the Oxford event, at which our member Rosemary Bancroft-Marcus presented her new book Georgios Chortatsis (fl. 1576-1596): Plays of the Veneto-Cretan Renaissance, published by Oxford University Press. Rosemary gave readings of extracts from her editions of the texts and from her translations, which impressed with their rhythmic fluency and accessibility. Other contributions were made by Elizabeth Jeffreys and David Holton.
We had hoped to organize another event in the spring but unfortunately our plans did not materialize. We hope to do better next year. This year’s graduate colloquium is, of course, already organized, in the capable hands of Dimitris Tziovas at the University of Birmingham. It will take place on Thursday 12 June and details have already been circulated to members. It’s worth noting that a record number of 13 papers will be presented, on topics spanning literature, history, politics, education, and the arts. It promises to be an exciting and rewarding day, and we are especially grateful to the Hellenic Foundation, which has agreed to make a substantial contribution to the costs of the event.
Looking a bit further ahead, on 28 October there will be an evening event to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the Nazi occupation of Greece. We shall again have the pleasure of collaborating with the Hellenic Centre, and David Wills has put together an impressive list of speakers.
I think we must set ourselves two main objectives in the next 12 months. The first is to increase our membership, which is still small compared with the interest that we know exists “out there” in contemporary Greek culture. If every member were to introduce one new member (I wish we could offer incentives, such as Tesco points or Avios), the consequent increase in subscription income would enable us to extend our activities significantly. We need your help to spread the word. Secondly, our website needs more material. Please let us know about events of general Modern Greek interest, publications, conferences and so on that would interest our members, so that can truly be seen to represent the current state of Modern Greek studies and Modern Greek cultural activities in the UK.
As I said last year, the Society also aspires to reach out to other parts of the country, beyond the “golden quadrilateral”, so we would be very happy to become involved in events that members are planning or would like to plan, lectures, book launches, commemorative events, film showings and so on.
I would like to conclude by thanking the members of the Executive Committee for their support and commitment over the year, and especially to Nikolas Kakkoufa who steps down after two years’ service as student representative. And finally our sincere thanks to the Director of the Hellenic Centre, Mrs Agatha Kalisperas, for permitting the use of this wonderful hall and acting as co-host of the public lecture which will follow this meeting.

David Holton

The AGM approved in principle a proposal that the Society should establish an open-access online journal, to be known as Modern Greek Studies Online. The Excecutive Committee will now appoint an Editor and Editorial Board.