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Plaintive nightingale or strident swan? : the reception of the Electra myth from 1960-2005.

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The ancient myth of Electra has a rich history of reception through the ages, which is well documented in scholarship. The scholarly debate, however, ceases when it comes to the reception of the myth after 1960, especially after 1970. Very few scholars have critically engaged with the adaptations of the Electra myth in the last three decades. In my thesis I intend to fill in this gap in scholarship by presenting eight adaptations of the Electra myth between 1960 and 2005 covering a span of three continents, three (or four) languages and three media (drama, comic series, film). The common factor between all of these adaptations consists in the fact that they have strong political and societal connotations. I selected them in order to illustrate my underlying argument in this thesis that the Electra myth survives from antiquity until today because it appeals to the creative imagination of authors and playwrights from different historical backgrounds, who use this specific myth as a vehicle in order to engage with their political and societal situation in their respective countries at their respective time. This selection also serves the purpose of illustrating a new trend in the reception of antiquity in modem times, a shift from more traditional high culture adaptations to the more unconventional popular mass media. With my thesis I would like to make a contribution to Reception Studies, a subdiscipline of Classics which has recently emerged from the long-standing field of Classical Tradition, by combing the methodologies of traditional Classical Philology and modern Literary Theory into one single comparative study. It is also an attempt to make some rather lesser known yet not less rewarding plays accessible to a wider audience. I hope that this attempt will prove to be fruitful and that my thesis will be the starting point for further research on more recent adaptations of the Electra myth.


Thesis (Ph.D.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, 2007.


Electra (Greek mythology) in literature., Electra (Greek mythology) in literature., Theses--Classics.