English Department Colloquium Series Features Dr. Amy Muse and Greek 'Dance of Freedom'

Dr. Amy Muse, associate professor of English at UST, will speak on Friday, Nov. 12, at the second event in the 2010-11 English Department Colloquium Series. She will present “Visiting the Site of the Dance of Freedom: Notes From My Research in Greece.”

The lecture will be held from 3:15 to 4:15 p.m. in the O’Shaughnessy Room, Room 108, in the O’Shaughnessy-Frey Library Center. Students, staff and faculty are invited; light refreshments will be served.

The Zalongo Monument sits atop a steep and rocky cliff in western Greece.

The Zalongo Monument sits atop a steep and rocky cliff in western Greece.

One of the most iconic images from the Greek War of Independence is a mass suicide: women, children in arms, preparing to jump off a cliff to their deaths rather than be taken in slavery by the forces pursuing them. According to the legend, the women clasped hands and defiantly danced and sang as one by one each threw her child off the cliff and then followed immediately afterward.

This horrifying act became known as the Dance of Zalongo (after the region in western Greece where it took place) and seized the imagination of the rest of Europe, which responded with protests and commemorations in the form of poems imagining the women’s last thoughts, monumental paintings that now hang in the Louvre, and philhellenic melodramas produced on the stages of London and Paris.

In the 1950s, a hauntingly beautiful modernist sculpture honoring the women was constructed on the mountaintop site, turning it into a tourist destination. Muse’s presentation describes the visit she made to the Zalongo Monument and her examination of it as an “experience museum” that attempts to place visitors in the presence of history and awaken the spirit of freedom for which the revolution was fought.

For more information call the English Department, (651) 962-5600.