Mario Telò

Job title: 
Comparative Literature
Ancient Greek & Roman Studies

In his scholarship, Telò seeks to place antiquity in dialogue with modernity, defamiliarizing and destabilizing widely accepted critical positions by exploring the emancipatory potential of textual and visual form. Aristophanes and the Cloak of Comedy: Affect, Aesthetics, and the Canon (University of Chicago Press, 2016) theorizes the nexus between canonicity and sensory—especially haptic—materiality. The edited volume The Materiality of Greek Tragedy (Bloomsbury, 2018) tests the advantages and limits of the so-called new materialisms in the interpretation of drama. On the threshold between critique and post-critique, his upcoming monograph, Archive Feelings: A Theory of Greek Tragedy (Ohio State University Press, “Classical Memories/Modern Identities,” 2020), examines how contemporary theorizations of the archive (especially Derrida’s Mal d’Archive) and the death drive (in Freud as well as Bersani, Butler, Edelman, Deleuze, Lacan, Rancière and Žižek) can help us understand the aesthetic experience of tragedy. Through an engagement with the texts of ancient plays, art (Francis Bacon, Cy Twombly), architecture (Daniel Libeskind) and film, Telò locates Greek tragedy’s aesthetic allure beyond catharsis in a vertiginous sense of giddy suspension, in a spiral of life-death that resists equilibrium, stabilization, and all forms of normativity. I am now working on a book on comedy and political theory, entitled Crisis and Dissent: Aristophanes Ancient/Modern. In another work-in-progress, The Titular Object, I explore how the “literary” negotiates the precarious dichotomies of subject and object, materiality and immateriality, through a consideration of plays (and films) named after objects (Plautus’ The Pot of Gold, Williams’ The Glass Menagerie, Ionesco’s Les chaises, Mishima’s The Magic Pillow, Hitchcock’s Rope). He is also developing a comparative project on the notion of “lateness” in literature, taking as starting points the theorizations of Adorno, Said and Derrida.

Telò is also the chief editor of the journal Classical Antiquity, and he regularly writes for the cultural section of the Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore.