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Classics Colloquium: Elise Kermani (Intermedia and sound artist)

  • Columbia University 420 West 118th Street (International Affairs Building) Rm# 404 IAB New York, NY 10027 (map)

“Iphigenia: Book of Change”

Iphigenia: Book of Change is a film of a live performance produced by MiShinnah Productions, written and directed by Elise Kermani. It is a collaboration between many New York and Los Angeles-based artists and incorporates puppetry, dance, video design, and music. The project uses text from Euripides’ 410 BCE play “Iphigenia at Aulis” in English as well as in ancient and modern Greek, and from Ellen McLaughlin’s 2005 play “Iphigenia at Taurus”. The film is inspired by Euripides' Iphigenia plays and by stories of contemporary women who have endured, survived and escaped captivity. A screening of the film will be followed by a panel discussion with the director, Dr. Elizabeth Scharffenberger, and Ellen Mclaughlin.

Elise Kermani is a sound media artist and filmmaker and the Artistic Director of MiShinnah Productions, a flagship company focusing on collaborative, genre-bending performance and film. She teaches media art at State University of New York/Empire State College and has a PhD in Media Philosophy from the European Graduate School. Kermani's film JOCASTA, a modern retelling of the Oedipus myth screened in Athens, GREECE in May 2012, and her short Agamemnon’s Daughter screened in Athens in October 2016. HerPOE[...and the museum of lost arts], developed during a 2 month residency at 3LD Art and Technology Center, screened at the Anthology Film Archives in December, 2015. In February, 2016 she presented a live performance of Iphigenia: Book of Change at the Electric Lodge in Venice, CA.Her most recent performance JUSTICE was performed in Riverside Park, NYC on the summer solstice 2017 and is currently being made into a film. 

Ellen McLaughlin's plays include: Iphigenia and Other Daughters, Tongue of a Bird, Helen, The Persians, Penelope, Septimus and Clarissa, Pericles and Ajax in Iraq. Off Broadway: New York Theater Workshop, National Actors’ Theater, Classic Stage Company and the Public Theater. Regional and international venues include: The Guthrie Theater, Actors’ Theater of Louisville, Almeida Theater, London, Intiman, Mark Taper Forum and Oregon Shakespeare Festival. As an actor she is best known for having originated the role of the Angel in Angels in America, appearing in all American productions through the original Broadway run, 1993-1994. She has taught playwriting at Barnard College since 1995.

Dr. Elizabeth Scharffenberger is a lecturer and faculty advisor of the postbaccalaureate program in the Department of Classics at Columbia University.  Her research and publications are generally focused on Athenian drama in the classical period and its reception in later eras. Look out for her paper “The Comic Refashioning of Tragedy in Strattis’ Phoenician Women” in the forthcoming volume on Aristophanes' Thesmophoriazusae edited by Niall Slater and Toph Marshall.

Note: The Black Sea Myths Network is holding an event at which Iphigenia, among other mythical figures, will be discussed. 



October 6, 2017 | 3:00pm - 6:00pm 

Heyman Center Common Room, Columbia University



Edith Hall (Professor of Classics, King's College London): “Tauric Iphigenia and Crimean Identity: Pericles to Putin”

Cleo Protohristova (Professor of Comparative Literature, Plovdiv University), “The Myths of Prometheus and the Black Sea Region”

Tamta Khalvashi (Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Free University of Tbilisi), “The Horizons of Medea and New Cosmologies of Dispossession in Georgia”

The "Black Sea Myths and Modern Europe" symposium addresses key ancient Black Sea myths that retain a stable presence in the Western cultural imagination—Prometheus, Medea and the Argonauts, Iphigenia, Odysseus—and aims to explore their life in the lands where these myths initially emerged. It targets especially the little-studied political mobilization of these myths in the construction of modern national, regional, and pan-European identities for various communities around the Black Sea. This symposium is the first public event of a long-term international research program, mobilizing an interdisciplinary team of scholars from the U.S., U.K., Greece, Bulgaria, and the Republic of Georgia under the umbrella of the global initiative Black Sea Networks, housed by the Slavic Department of Columbia University.

Discussant: Helene Foley (Professor of Classics, Barnard College)

Organizer: Valentina Izmirlieva (Professor of Slavic Literature, Columbia University)



The Black Sea Networks Initiative

Columbia University Department of Classics 

President's Global Innovation Fund 

The Heyman Center for the Humanities 

The Harriman Institute


Later Event: October 8
Classics Club