Deborah Steiner (Spring ’16) is currently the John Jay Professor of Greek and Latin in the Department of Classics at Columbia University, where she has taught since 1994. She is the author of books and articles treating archaic and early classical Greek literary, visual and epigraphic culture and the intersections between the different media, and is now working on the topic of chorality – with particular attention to choral dancing – in a variety of early sources.
Choral Constructions: choral song and dance in archaic and early classical Greek texts, art and the material record
Steiner’s current book-length project, Choral Constructions: choral song and dance in archaic and early classical Greek texts, art and the material record, has two chief aims. In the first part of the study, Steiner explores the series of archetypal choruses on whom early choral performers modeled themselves as they sang and danced before an assembled audience in ritual contexts; among these paradigmatic ensembles are stars, dolphins, halcyons, equids, and, more surprisingly, Gorgons, tripod cauldrons and columns. The second part of the work aims to trace how choral morphology, kinetics and acoustics interacted with other archaic and early classical social practices, institutions and technologies: featured here are chapters on dedications and temple architecture, early inscriptions and epigraphic practices, weaving techniques, and catalogues both oral and written. A concluding chapter identifies the archaic chorus as a privileged site for reflections on spectacularity and enargeia, and the passage from a living performance to its re-enactment in verbal form.