Front matter and Introduction - Sydney Studies in Society and Culture, Volume 11 (1994)


  • Lola Sharon Davidson
  • S. N. Mukherjee
  • Z. Zlatar


It is thanks to Zdenko Zlatar that in this volume we can bring together poets from many different strands of the epic tradition -from ancient Rome and India to medieval and modern Europe.Originally it was Zlatar's idea that we expand Gian Biagio Conte's concept of reading a text. Zlatar wanted to read an epic "in connection with" and "in opposition to" other epics, as Conte would have wanted. Accordingly a workshop was organized by SASSC in 1990 in Sydney and it brought together scholars from all departments of the University of Sydney. It was intended to follow this with an international conference in 1991 or 1992, to be addressed by the late Professor Alfred Lord. Alas, Professor Lord died and the University of Sydney failed to give us fmancial assistance for such a conference.


In 1993, thanks to Lola Sharon Davidson, SASSC was able to organize another workshop on epics at which we heard some new papers and some revised versions of the papers from the 1990 workshop. It is due to the efforts of Dr.Davidson that we are now able to present a selection of these papers in this volume. Unfortunately we have not been able to publish all the papers from the two workshops, so this volume does not provide as broad a coverage of epic poetry as we initially intended. In particular, works on the Indian and Indonesian epics, on the Icelandic sagas and the Byzantine epics had to be ommitted. The workshops themselves were in the best tradition of SASSC. They were interdisciplinary, original and informative. The discussions, often fierce and emotional,.helped to shape the final version of this book.