1st International Student Literature Meeting “Rethinking Literature”
“Αt nine o’clock” as K.P. Kavafis would say, the 1st online student literature meeting with the imaginative - as Kostas Giavis characterized it - title “Rethinking Literature” began. The meeting was co-organized by Mandoulides Schools and Zografeio Lykeio of Istanbul and was conducted on April 15 and 16, under the auspices of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
170 students from 22 schools of Greece, Istanbul, Imbros, Nicosia, New York and Johannesburg, 46 teachers of secondary and tertiary education and 50 selected representatives of literature and the arts had the opportunity to exchange thoughts, questions and reflections on the teaching of literature today.
Thursday, 15 Αpril 2021
Αikaterini Mantoulidou, President of Mandoulides Schools
Charalampos Kyrailidis, President of the Private Schools Association
Giorgos Papaliaris, President of the Municipality of Stavrodromi
Stratos Doltsiniadis, Representative of the Founder of Zografeio Lykeio
Giannis Gigourtsis, Education Coordinator of the schools of the Greek Diaspora
Fragkiski Αmpatzopoulou, Professor Emeritus of Philology of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Writer
Beginning of the meeting
The Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew I of Constantinople, initiated the meeting.
“On the back”
(Music: Εvanthia Rempoutsika, Lyrics: Lina Νikolakopoulou)
Online musical meeting of Evanthia Rempoutsika with the orchestra and choir of Mandoulides Schools as well as the choir of Zografeio Lykeio
The teaching of literature in Senior High School today
Counselor: Κostas Giavis, Assistant Professor in the Philology Department of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
Coordinator: Aspa Chasioti, PhD in Philology, General Director of Mandoulides Schools
Participants: Spyros Κiosses, Member of the Teaching Staff in the Philology Department of the University of Thrace, Eleni Priovolou, Writer, and 14 students from 14 schools.
In the first session “The teaching of literature in High School today,” the student Christina Tsakloglou stressed the need to focus on teaching through “brighter” texts, while Mr. Spyros Kiosses underlined the need for a more flexible choice of texts, other than those included in curricular textbooks. Their views were adopted by many students who emphasized that this should be their rightful choice.
The ideal literature course - Suggestions for teaching and reading
Counselor: Kostas Karavidas, PhD in Philology, Member of the Teaching Staff in the Philology Department of the University of Ioannina.
Coordinator: Kostas Karavidas, PhD in Philology, Member of the Teaching Staff in the Philology Department of the University of Ioannina.
Participants: Kostas Akrivos, Writer, Educator, Venetia Apostolidou, Professor of Modern Greek Literature and the Teaching of Literature in the Department of Primary Level Education of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Κaterina Μoustakatou, PhD in Philology, Εducator, and 16 students from 16 schools.
Next, there was the talk of “The ideal literature course - Suggestions for teaching and reading.” Mrs Venetia Apostolidou referred to the broader approach to literature beyond the classroom, while the thesis of the student Elena Agouridou for a more modern approach through dramatization even in the senior high school made a strong impression. There was also a lot to discuss regarding the teachers of literature, who are called today to play various roles; from an actor, as the student Konstantina Giannopoulou said, to a director, as Mr Akrivos added.
Can poetry be taught?
Counselor: Giannis Paschos, Writer
Coordinator: Giannis Μpaskozos, Writer, Publisher
Participants: Eftychia Panagiotou, Poetess, Sadahzinia (Giolanta Tsiampokalou), Lyricist, Writer, Aspa Chasioti, PhD in Philology, General Director of Mandoulides Schools, Giorgos Chouliaras, Writer, and 15 students from 15 schools.
Through video: Εvi Κοutroumpaki, Writer, Εducator, Κyriakos Syfiltzoglou, Poet
Τhe session entitled “Can poetry be taught?” followed. The students referred to the importance of poetry in the modern era, in which this genre is declining in popularity, and they extensively discussed the difficulties of its teaching. The students expressed their literary concerns through reading poems mainly by Giannis Ritsos and Giorgos Seferis and graciously sang a poem by Kostis Palamas!
The role of the reader, the role of the writer and the role of the literature teacher
Counselor: Kostas Giavis, Assistant Professor in the Philology Department of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
Coordinator: Κostas Giavis, Assistant Professor in the Philology Department of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
Participants: Giorgos Αndreiomenos, Professor in the Philology Department of the University of Peloponnese, Vice Rector, Lila Κonomara, Writer, Μanos Kontoleon, Writer, and 14 students from 12 schools.
After a short break, the session entitled ”The role of the reader, the role of the writer and the role of the literature teacher” followed, in which Mrs. Lila Konomara pointed out that the decision to become a writer must be the result of inner will, as one cannot make a living from writing today, while Mr. Giorgos Andreiomenos focused on the contribution of technology to literature courses and the interconnection of literature with other subjects for a more attractive approach both for students and teachers.
Creative writing or essay writing?
Counselor: Sofia Nikolaidou, Writer, Member of the Teaching Staff in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
Coordinator: Dimitra Kechagia, Journalist
Participants: Νtina Iliopoulou, Member of the Teaching Staff in the Department of Philosophy and Education of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Κostas Αggelakos, Professor in the History Department of the Ionian University, Editor of the magazine and the digital version of NEW EDUCATION and 14 students from 12 schools.
The first day ended with a discussion that has troubled many on the question of ”Creative writing or essay writing?” During the discussion, students discussed the phenomenon of grade obsession and emphasized the freedom of thought that governs creative writing and the need to include it in the school curriculum, while Mrs Sofia Nikolaidou referred to the psychological benefits of creative writing in an educational system like the Greek one. On his part, Mr Kostas Aggelakos stressed that lately, after the changes in the course, the two sides have been converging and there is no Manichean logic.
To be continued tomorrow…
Friday, 16 Αpril 2021
Redefining writers: foreign classic authors, fantasy literature, comics
Counselor: Fragkiski Αmpatzopoulou, Emeritus Professor of Philology in the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Writer
Coordinator: Μikela Chartoulari, Journalist
Participants: Dimosthenis Papamarkos, Writer, Scriptwriter, Comics Writer, Vasiliki Petsa, Writer, Translator, and 14 students from 14 schools.
The second day began with the discussion ”Redefining writers: foreign classic authors, fantasy literature, comics.” The students mentioned that foreign literature - and specifically fantasy literature - opens new horizons and new windows to the world, either the real one or the imaginary. Regarding the teaching of fantasy literature in schools, Mrs Fragkiski Ampatzopoulou mentioned that the biggest problem in the teaching of literature in general is that in modern schools we often pursue the rationalization of this subject. However, rationalism cannot provide answers to all questions. Common words are sometimes not enough and that’s why fantasy literature should be part of our educational system.
How can books compete with new technologies?
Counselor: Κostas Κaravidas, PhD in Philology, Μember of the Teaching Staff in the Philology Department of the University of Ioannina
Coordinator: Κostas Mpliatkas, Journalist, Writer
Participants: Dimitris Αthinakis, Writer, Εditor, Translator, Elena Μaroutsou, Writer, Literary Critic, Paulina Μarvin, Writer, Doctoral Candidate in the Department of Theatre Studies of the Kapodistrian University of Athens, in charge of the Literary Performance Festival of the Thessaloniki International Book Fair, as well as 16 students from 16 schools.
Later on, the discussion focused on the question “How can books compete with new technologies?” During this discussion, Mr Dimitris Athinakis referred to the value of reading irrespective of the means through which it is accomplished, since the most important thing is actually to read. The student Faidra Danilatou wondered whether it’s not technology that is responsible for distancing students from books but the school textbooks, which prevent young people from experiencing the love for reading and more specifically reading literature books. Besides, as Mrs Paulina Marvin stressed, books were once a new technology.
Modern Odysseys and forbidden texts
Counselor: Dimitris Τziovas, Professor of Modern Greek Philology in the University of Birmingham
Coordinator: Pavlos Tsimas, Journalist, Writer
Participants: Κaterina Schina, Literary Critic, Writer, Translator, Christos Chomenidis, Writer, and 17 students from 17 schools.
The next meeting focused on “Modern Odysseys and forbidden texts.” Mr Dimitris Tziovas focused on contemporary trends, especially abroad, where the voices of literary critics of classic texts, such as Homer’s epics or Shakespeare’s works, are increasing. It’s a movement that “accuses” these texts of containing elements of violence, misogynism and racism. Mr Christos Chomenidis stressed that such invalid reactions reinforce the value of these classic works instead of decreasing it. In fact, he highlighted that forbidding them will urge even more people to read them, while Mrs. Katerina Schina argued that such movements haven’t received wide recognition and we shouldn’t judge classic literature based on today’s standards and ways of thinking.
Writers confess: choices, difficulties, joy and dead ends
Counselor: Giannis Paschos, Writer
Coordinator: Μanolis Pimplis, Writer, Journalist
Participants: Εlisavet Kotzia, Literary Critic, Writer, Kallia Papadaki, Writer and 15 students from 15 schools.
Introductory video: Κaterina Schina, Literary Critic, Writer, Translator
Through video: Κyriaki Μpeioglou, Journalist, Writer, Thomas Κοrovinis, Writer
Later on, the discussion focused on the topic ”Writers confess: choices, difficulties, joy and dead ends.” When students asked what kind of a person a writer is and what his or her role is, Mrs. Kallia Papadaki mentioned that a writer tries to see beyond the obvious, being a person who tries to defeat what is troubling him or her, while Mr. Paschos argued that literature is a form of rebellion and it’s beneficial when the writer exhibits resistance.
Literature at the cinema and on stage
Counselor: Μichalis Speggos, Writer
Coordinator: Μarina Aggelaki, Journalist
Participants: Stelios Mainas, Actor, Τasos Μpoulmetis, Director, and 15 students from 13 schools.
The next discussion ”Literature at the cinema and on stage” focused on the relationship between literature and the cinema as well as the theatre. When the student Mariana Giochala asked how literary adaptations can benefit the cinema and the theater, Mr Tasos Mpoulmpetis mentioned that the reader is the one who adds imagination to literature, while at the cinema it’s the director who has visualized a specific world and presents it to the viewer. Mr Stelios Mainas stressed that the reading of a literature book is very personal, while at the theater one shares this experience with others. Then, Mr Michalis Speggos highlighted that every literary adaptation, either at the cinema or the theater, constitutes a new artistic creation.
Literature and the searching of meaning
Counselor: Fragkiski Ampatzopoulou, Professor Emeritus of Philology of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Writer
Coordinator: Paulina Μarvin, Writer, Doctoral Candidate in the Department of Theatre Studies of the Kapodistrian University of Athens, in charge of the Festival of Literary Performance of the Thessaloniki International Book Fair
Participants: Tolis Nikiforou, Poet, Writer, Christos Αsteriou, PhD in Philology, Writer, and 20 students from 20 schools.
Τhe meeting was concluded with the discussion entitled ”Literature and the searching of meaning.” As regards the role of poetry in people’s lives, Mr. Tolis Nikiforou argued that through poetry each individual’s uniqueness can be discovered. Mrs Dimitra Christodoulou mentioned that poetry is a gift during a time that communication among people is nonexistent and societies are becoming more and more chaotic. Mrs Fragkiski Ampatzopoulou mentioned that poetry gives meaning to their unexpressed experiences, since its power is connected to the unreachable and the divine, while the student Aikaterini - Eleni Karaindrou mentioned that poetry - and literature in general - is a way to turn pain into hope.
We are looking forward to the 2nd International Student Literature Meeting entitled “Rethinking Literature.” Until then, as the student Maria-Elpida Liakou said, let’s stay in touch with literature…
Α few words about the event
The 1st International Student Literature Meeting constitutes a proposal for teaching and approaching literature and aims to promote the contact, communication, exchange of views and creative collaboration of students and teachers with selected representatives of literature and the arts.
Through this meeting, students will have the opportunity to share their opinions and suggestions and talk freely about what worries them as well as what occupies their minds but they cannot easily express.
This year, 170 students from 22 schools of Greece, Istanbul, Imbros, Nicosia, New York and Johannesburg, 46 teachers and 50 selected representatives of literature and the arts are participating in this first meeting.
In the spring of 2020, the 8th International Student Literature Conference on the topic “Giannis Ritsos: The Poet of Hellenism” couldn’t be held due to the coronavirus pandemic. The seven conferences that had preceded were dedicated to Α. Papadiamantis (2012), K.P. Kavafis (2013), G. Seferis (2014), G. Vizyinos (2015), O. Elytis (2016), G. Theotokas (2018) and A. Samarakis (2019). 300 students and teachers from schools of Greece, Nicosia, Alexandreia of Egypt, Istanbul and Imbros, New York as well as selected representatives of literature and the arts participated in each event.
For this reason, the organizers decided to stay in contact with students even via the Internet and let the 1st International Student Literature Meeting be held online, until they can meet again in the spring of 2022 in Istanbul. Besides, the International Student Literature Conference that has been successfully conducted every year since 2012 constitutes an innovative and imaginative proposal for teaching and promoting literature.
Τhe 22 schools that participated are the following:
2ND GENERAL HIGH SCHOOL OF MESOLOGGI - SCHOOL OF GREEK STUDIES, 3RD GENERAL HIGH SCHOOL OF MESOLOGGI, ARISTOTLE SCHOOL OF KORINTHOS, JUNIOR-SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL OF IMBROS, JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL OF LIVADOCHORI OF LIMNOS, AVGOULEA - LINARDATOU SCHOOLS, GEITONA SCHOOLS, MANDOULIDES SCHOOLS, ΜPAKOGIANNIS SCHOOLS, “MODERN EDUCATION” SCHOOLS, HELLENIC AMERICAN COLLEGE OF AGIOS DIMITRIOS, ΑSTORIA OF ΝΥ, GREEK-FRENCH SCHOOL “JEANNE D’ ARC,” ZOGRAFEIO LYKEIO, “AKSION” SCHOOLS, ATHENS COLLEGE, PSYCHIKO COLLEGE, SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL OF ACROPOLIS, MUSIC SCHOOL OF VOLOS, PANCYPRIAN JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL, VARVAKEIO HIGH SCHOOL, ST. CATHERINE’ S BRITISH SCHOOL, SAHETI SCHOOL OF JOHANNESBURG