Joanna Eleftheriou is author of the essay collection This Way Back (West Virginia University Press, 2020). Her poems and essays appear in Bellingham Review, Arts and Letters, and Sweeter Voices Still: An LGBTQ Anthology from Middle America. She has studied at Cornell University, the Center for Ottoman, Byzantine, and Modern Greek Studies in Birmingham (UK), and the University of Missouri, where she earned a doctorate in creative writing. A contributing editor at Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies, book reviews editor at The Journal of Modern Greek Studies, and a fellow of the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Joanna serves as assistant professor of English at Christopher Newport University.
Greek Language and Culture
The Greek language and culture class is designed to deepen and enrich your writing time in Greece. You’ll learn to decode the Greek alphabet so that you can read road signs and menus, and you’ll learn to speak the basic day-to-day phrases that will get you a glass of cold white wine, an iced coffee, clean sheets, mosquito repellent, an impromptu dance session, or a “you’re welcome” for your thanks.
The class offers more than basic grammar and “survival” Greek, though. While the glorious sight of the Thassian landscape alone can help us see our work in new ways, it is also the sounds – the words that can’t be translated, the Greek words for joy and pain and hope – that will enter and deepen your work. As Greek class participants, you will learn the stories behind the music you hear at the taverna (and the dances you dance there), exploring how the musical traditions arise (as with American bluegrass and jazz) from particular historical conditions; you will become familiar with the political urgencies that continue to animate Greek art. Contemporary Greeks write in the shadow of antiquity, and inhabit a borderland between the old and the new, as well as between East and West. Thessaloniki, one of Byzantium’s greatest cities, and a hub connecting the Balkans to the north and Turkey to the east, capturing within its fourth century fortifications the essence of Modern Greece, a country that is at once “cradle” of western civilization and eastern exotic, postmodern and still very, very old. The language and culture course will complement the writing workshops, with class sessions after workshop, and excursions to local museums and other places of interest on Fridays when there is no writing class. The curriculum will be adjusted according to the needs of participants, many of whom will be able to continue learning Greek at home.