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Title: Writing the Edge: Vergil and His Limits
Authors: Bernstein, Frances Margaret
Advisors: Feeney, Denis
Contributors: Classics Department
Keywords: Aeneid
Augustan Literature
Subjects: Classical literature
Classical studies
Issue Date: 2022
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation, titled Writing the Edge: Vergil and His Limits, focuses on the relationship between liminal space and interpretive practice in the Aeneid and, in microcosm, in the Georgics. The project synthesizes close readings of transitional passages in Vergil’s works, spatial theory, Roman space and monument, and work on the materiality of texts. My central aim is to address how Vergil frames the nature and limits of his foundational epic’s participation in constructing the ideology of the Augustan project. Chapter One examines how Vergil develops a metapoetics of limits that links represented, textual, real-world, and interpretive space in the Georgics. Chapters Two through Five then turn to the Aeneid. I argue in my discussion of the limits of the Aeneid that by aligning represented boundaries, textual boundaries, and concerns about poetic production, as well as silence, Vergil both makes his text recognizable as a spatial entity and establishes the boundaries in and of his poem as sites of interpretation where the narrator transfers the task of constructing poetic meaning to his readers. By engaging specifically with boundary-related Roman spaces familiar to his contemporary reader, Vergil frames the Aeneid as an object that aims, through a co-constructive relationship between author and reader, to inscribe itself into its readers’ experience and understanding of their sociopolitical context. Conceptualizing the textual space of the Aeneid as coextensive with the Roman space it claims to found ultimately allows us to read the abrupt, violent end of the poem—with its discussion of a moved boundary stone and failed voices—as a simultaneous refusal by the author to extend the edges of his poem and its foundational project by writing more or offering interpretive guidance, and as a requirement that contemporary readers, by continuing to construct the poem’s meaning when the author ceases to provide words or guidance, participate in extending those poetic limits and the practice of interpretation into their real-world Augustan context.
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Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Classics

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