Gonda Van Steen earned a BA and MA degree in Classics in her native Belgium and a PhD degree in Classics and Hellenic Studies from Princeton University. Her research interests include Greek language and literature through Byzantine and Modern Greek, Western travelers to Greece and the Ottoman Empire, nineteenth and twentieth-century receptions of the classics and especially of ancient theater, and modern Greek intellectual and social history. Van Steen holds the position of Koraes Chair of Modern Greek and Byzantine History, Language and Literature in the Centre for Hellenic Studies and the Department of Classics at King’s College London. Formerly, as the Cassas Chair in Greek Studies at the University of Florida, she taught courses in ancient and modern Greek language and literature and served as president and subsequently as executive director of the Modern Greek Studies Association of North America (MGSA, www.mgsa.org). In January 2021, she started a three-year term of service as secretary to the executive committee of the UK’s Society for Modern Greek Studies (SMGS, http://www.moderngreek.org.uk/society/welcome).

 

Van Steen’s first book, “Venom in Verse: Aristophanes in Modern Greece,” was published by Princeton University Press in 2000 and was awarded the John D. Criticos Prize from the London Hellenic Society. In her book of 2010, “Liberating Hellenism from the Ottoman Empire,” revolutionary uses of Aeschylus’ “Persians” (1820s) and the Venus de Milo take center stage. Van Steen’s 2011 book, entitled “Theatre of the Condemned: Classical Tragedy on Greek Prison Islands” (OUP), discusses the ancient tragedies that were produced by the political prisoners of the Greek Civil War (late 1940s through 1950s). Van Steen’s 2015 book, “Stage of Emergency: Theater and Public Performance under the Greek Military Dictatorship of 1967-1974” (OUP), analyzes theater life, performance, and censorship under the Greek junta. Her latest book, “Adoption, Memory and Cold War Greece: Kid pro quo?” (University of Michigan Press, 2019), is a Greek American adoption study, set against the backdrop of the global Cold War. It appeared also in Greek translation as “Ζητούνται παιδιά από την Ελλάδα: Υιοθεσίες στην Αμερική του Ψυχρού Πολέμου” (Athens: Potamos, 2021). This book, the first study to lay bare the controversial history of the postwar adoptions of Greek children to the USA and to the Netherlands, won the 2019 Book Prize of the European Society of Modern Greek Studies. Van Steen’s current book project, tentatively entitled “Adoption Reckonings,” takes the reader into the uncharted terrain of Greek adoption stories that become paradigmatic of Cold War history and politics. Van Steen is also preparing the annotated edition of a postwar and Civil War memoir written by an American social worker active in relief services in northern Greece: “The Battle for Bodies, Hearts, and Minds in Postwar Greece: Social Worker Charles Schermerhorn in Thessaloniki, 1946-1951” (Routledge, 2023). Van Steen has further published articles on ancient Greek and late antique literature, on postwar Greek feminism, and on Cavafy.

 

Gonda Van Steen is the first woman to hold the historic position of Koraes Chair of Modern Greek and Byzantine History, Language and Literature in the Centre for Hellenic Studies and the Department of Classics at King’s College London.  She has published five books, all steeped in thorough archival research and enhanced by personal testimonies. Her latest research project is a long-term study of the organized mass adoptions of Greek children to the USA (and to the Netherlands) in the first fifteen years following the end of the Greek Civil War (1950 – mid-1960s), a byproduct of the Cold War, when Greek agency, let alone women’s and children’s agency, was at a historic low. This mass adoption phenomenon, which involved some 4,000 children, has been contested, denied, grossly exaggerated, but now also studied and carefully documented. This adoption movement and Greek adoption altogether have remained some of the last social and family taboos that need to be broken, and Van Steen is committed to do her part as a leading academic to make this happen.

 

 

 

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Τίτλος αποσπάσματος:  Επώδυνος Ελληνισμός, The Greek Diaspora in Pain: From Adoption Allure to Adoptee Activism
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