Collaborative teaching

A common exercise close friends enjoy is the making of lists of favorite things. Quantifying shared taste is a marked way to establish and celebrate an exclusive domain of mutual recognition and respect. For example, with some friends I make bibliographies, with others anthologies, with yet others soundtracks. With Pantelis, we always plan programs which we will present together, such as talks, recitals, and above all courses. Quite often, two hours into a skype conversation, the pedagogical inspiration strikes and a syllabus begins to take form, requiring an additional two skype hours (not to mention follow ups).

One of our courses will deal with the genre of the paraclausithyron/παρακλαυσίθυρον, the lament of the lover who has been shut out of the beloved’s door, with examples from Hellenistic poetry to the rebetika songs of the 1940s. This will be our “Greek course,” focusing on the trials of unrequited love.

Another course will deal with the theme of the wanderer, and will start with wandering in ancient Greek culture but cover primarily Romantic poetry, fiction, song (from Schubert to Mahler), and instrumental music. This will be our “German course,” focusing on the male haunted figure in search of home and love.

A third course will launch L’Embarquement pour Cythère, taking on board painters, poets, musicians, and dancers (from Rococo to Impressionism) who envisioned this island of the ars amandi. Our “French course” will focus on hymns and codes of galanterie from the Medieval amour courtois to the Enlightenment libertinage.

The two courses/programs to which we will always return and for which we continue to collect materials are one that discusses diverse kinds of music drawing on C. P. Cavafy (based on our recital of settings by 16 composers in 5 languages, which we have performed 10 times) and one on melancholy in music, literature, and contemporary political thought.

Teaching a class with Pantelis Polychronidis in geographical proximity or distance is one of the many public ways in which my “other self” and I have been planning to collaborate.

March 15, 2015

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