Lecturer: Dr Konstandina Dounis
Cultural historian and literary translator Dr Konstandina Dounis will present this year’s Dimitris Tsaloumas Memorial Lecture at the Greek Centre, on Thursday 19 September 2019, which is a part of the Greek History and Culture Seminar, offered by the Greek Community of Melbourne. The lecture is organised in collaboration with the Greek-Australian Cultural League.
In Against Amnesia, Nancy J. Peterson outlines the crucial role that minority literatures play in bringing minority histories into full cultural consciousness. The writers of these works ‘live and work at a cultural moment when minority histories are not known in their complexity and so they strive in their literary works to draw the past into the present moment of the reader’s consciousness so that we ‘seize hold of historical memories’. Her extensive reviewing of minority writers in America today highlights that in attempting to narrate the lives, experiences and events of their people, these writers have found themselves taking on the role of historian alongside that of writer.
This lecture seeks to demonstrate the potential of literary texts emanating from the Greek-Australian diaspora to fill in the gaps in both mainstream Australian histories and those that have emerged from, and about, the Greek-Australian diaspora itself. The tenets of postmodernism and postcolonialism and their progressive unhinging of the prized objectivity of historical documentation, together with the strident notion inherent in the ‘right to narrate’, have collectively resulted in a reassessment of what constitutes historical documentation. Given the intersections of the global and the local at the heart of the diaspora experience, the diapsoric literary texts are at the forefront of not only re-interpreting the Greek migrant experience, but re-imagining it.
Dr Konstandina Dounis is a cultural historian and literary translator with a particular interest in immigrant stories and their impact on the Australian literary canon. Greek-Australian literature, history and culture has been the axis around which her research has revolved. Her doctoral research,The Shadow and the Muse: Journeys within the thematic tapestry inherent in Greek-Australian women’s writingentails extensive forays into unearthing immigrant women’s texts, examining their propensity to challenge canonical formations, to enrich historical documentation and to widen the parameters of their diasporic community. She is a prolific translator of both poetry and prose, from Modern Greek to English, and has an extensive list of publications in this regard. Her parallel passion is teaching, a preoccupation that she has been proud and exhilarated to engage in throughout her working life. She currently teaches within the Faculty of Education, Monash University where, in 2018, she was awarded the MSA Award for Teaching Excellence.