Jo Guldi


First it was Greg, to whom I owe those early maps of the cosmos on top of which were plotted everything else — Vidal-Naquet, Svenbro, Detienne. Then, when I proved that I could apply ancient theories of poetics to modern poetry, it was Greg and Holly.

Holly and Greg saw the threads of ancient rhetoric running through my thesis on Sarah Orne Jewett and ruled that I could write. Holly and Greg pulled my parents aside at a garden party and told them I must go to grad school. They offered connections at Oxford and Cambridge, but I went to grad school in far-off subjects — geography, architecture, and modern history. Even so, they were always a stone’s throw away, intellectually, haunting my conversations.

When I took a summer fellowship at Dumbarton Oaks, I came to tea at the Center for Hellenic Studies. When I thought about travel in eighteenth-century Britain, I thought through oral poetics and so wrote about the hundred new words for describing strangers by poster, gait, and carriage that appeared in nineteenth-century London.

When I finished my first postdoc, there was Holly on facebook urging me to apply to the Harvard Society of Fellows. For three glorious years, there were Greg and Holly again at dinner.

Mentors and friends over many decades now: eternal thanks for friends like these.