A Professor of Greek at the University of St Andrews has won a prestigious prize for his work on Greek laughter.
Stephen Halliwell, Head of the School of Classics, has been awarded the Criticos Prize, granted annually by the London Hellenic Society. It is the most high-profile prize awarded in the field of Classics.
Professor Halliwell’s book Greek Laughter: a Study of Cultural Psychology from Homer to Early Christianity (Cambridge University Press, 2008) was deemed to be an ‘outstanding work from the entire spectrum of Hellenic studies, from antiquity to the present’.
The book is the first ever to use laughter as a way of interpreting a whole range of areas of Greek culture, including aspects of its mythology, poetry, philosophy, religion, politics, and art.
Professor Halliwell commented, “Laughter infiltrated almost every area of Greek life and thought, from their views of childhood to the way they imagined their Olympian gods. There was a significant shift in attitudes to laughter which came about with the transition from paganism to Christianity. Laughter involves a fascinating interplay between body and mind; studying it gives one a distinctive perspective on many aspects of a culture.”
The award is the second international prize granted to Professor Halliwell in recent years. His previous book, The Aesthetics of Mimesis: Ancient Texts and Modern Problems (Princeton University Press, 2002), was awarded the Premio Europeo d’Estetica for 2008 by the Italian Society for Aesthetics.
A podcast of Professor Halliwell talking about his research is available via: http://podularity.com/2009/10/12/32-what-made-greeks-laugh/
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