Emily Clifford

I study the representational problem imposed by the mystery of death. As Aeschylus’ chorus say, faltering at the climax of their description of Iphigenia’s sacrifice - ‘What followed I did not see and do not say…’ (Agamemnon 248). Death - the ‘Great Unknown’ - is a reality that all mortals must experience, but cannot try out in advance. This presented artists with a challenge - how to make something unknowable and alien present for outsiders - whether they be viewers, listeners or readers.

Central to my thesis is that there is a connection between death’s representational problem (how to show someone else someone else’s death on pots, on stage, in prose, in stone…) and its cognitive problem (how to imagine death from the perspective of the living).

In my research, I am looking at a variety of visual and verbal media from Classical Athens - pots, Plato’s dialogues, drama, sculpture to name a few. This reflects my underlying interests in the properties of and relationships between media (especially art and text) and ekphrasis.

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