Gender and History in Modern Cypriot Writing

Thursday 16 Mar 2023

A female take on Cypriot History: The case of three contemporary women authors

Dr Ioannidou will explore how the trauma of Cypriot history is explored and filtered through the lens of gender and memory in prose and poetry of post 1960 Cyprus.

This talk aims to provide an overview of contemporary fiction written by Cypriot women and, more specifically, look into the works of Constantia Soteriou, Nasia Dionysiou, and Louiza Papaloizou. Following in the footsteps of the acclaimed author Niki Marangou, these three authors address historical and political issues in their fiction. Soteriou penned a trilogy on the female experience of the 1974 invasion and the intercommunal violence that broke right after the establishment of the Republic of Cyprus. Dionysiou focused on the ‘unknown’ story of the internment camps in Famagusta, where Jewish immigrants were detained after WWII.  Finally, Papalouizou wrote an ambitious novel spanning seven decades and treated the themes of national identity, irredentism, nostalgia, homesickness, and memory.

All three authors come from a generation raised in the aftermath of the Cypriot conflict; their representations of the collective trauma of the Cypriot people are imbued with creative freedom because they do not rely on the first-hand experience of the historical events they subjectivise and they also use Greek Cypriot as a literary device. They all engage with different genres and styles to produce a rich panorama of the island’s tumultuous history in the twentieth century by giving voice to ‘unheard’ or lesser-known perspectives and narratives. All three have already gained recognition for their works outside Cyprus, in Greece as well as abroad; the tangible impact of their writing makes a case for a stronger-than-ever Greek Cypriot literary presence.

Memories of the homeland: representations of the history of Cyprus in the poetry of Kyriakos Charalambides and Niki Marangou

With reference to works by Kyriakos Charalambides and Niki Marangou, Dr Hadjipavlou explores how the two poets reconstruct the past through the lens of the present.

Kyriakos Charalambides (b.1940) and Niki Marangou (1948-2013) are two of the most renowned and prolific Cypriot writers of their generation. Born in Cyprus in the 1940s, they experienced important events in the history of their homeland first hand. They both experienced the Cypriot struggle for liberation of 1955-59 as children and the Turkish invasion of 1974 as adults. Unavoidably, a big part of their work is primarily framed by the political and historical events which have marked the modern history of Cyprus and which are expressed in their poetic work through an overall view of the history of Cyprus and more specifically through a journey to the Frankish Kingdom of Cyprus and the Venetian, Ottoman and British rule on the island.

Both poets have a deep and thorough knowledge of the history of Cyprus, but their vivid representation of the past also emanates from the direct experience with the recent historical events. This paper will mostly concentrate on the poetic collections Μεθιστορία (1995) by Kyriakos Charalambides and Προς Αμυδραν Ιδέα (2008) by Niki Marangou and how the two poets reconstruct the past through the lens of the present. It also aims to show how the poets often choose to highlight in their work different aspects of known historical events and historical figures.

In collaboration with the Society for Modern Greek Studies and the A. G. Leventis Foundation.


The Hellenic Centre


Free entry | RSVP via Eventbrite or 020 7563 9835