ReTAGS Speaker Series Act 5 - Dr Justine McConnell

24 May 2022
24 May 2022

ReTAGS is pleased to invite you to Act 5 of our Speaker Series.

‘Using the old names anew’: Derek Walcott and Graeco-Roman Antiquity

We are honoured to welcome our next formidable speaker, Dr Justine McConnell. Her talk will explore the ways in which the St Lucian poet and dramatist, Derek Walcott, winner of the 1992 Nobel Prize for Literature, re-imagines tragedy, epic, and the myths they retell.

Derek Walcott once declared, ‘What is needed is not new names for old things, or old names for old things, but the faith of using the old names anew’. For Walcott, this is a strategy that – far from signalling a derivative aspect in his writing – nurtures the creation of new work that recasts older forms without being overshadowed by them. Famously, Walcott denied that his book-length poem Omeros was an epic, but he went on to qualify that statement by asking us to rethink what we understand by ‘epic’. So too, the title of his drama The Isle is Full of Noises evokes Shakespeare’s The Tempest, but the tale it tells is also of a Philoctetes-figure nicknamed Crusoe and the modern exploitation of St Lucia in the name of tourism; and his early play Ione embeds a mashup of several Greek tragedies (Aeschylus’ Agamemnon and Seven Against Thebes, Euripides’ Medea and The Bacchae) within a context of Caribbean oral storytelling.

Contesting the imperial power dynamics European works have often been used to propagate, Walcott contributes to the creation of a new body of Caribbean literature and asserts a place for Caribbean art in a global, transhistorical canon.

Date: Monday 30 May 2022

Time: 15:00 - 16:30 SAST

Zoom meeting

The event is free to attend, however you will need to register here.