Revisiting C. H. Sisson: Modernist, Classicist, Translator

deadline for submissions: 
December 15, 2016
full name / name of organization: 
King's College, London and Brigham Young University
contact email: 

Revisiting C. H. Sisson: Modernist, Classicist, Translator

London, 28-29 April 2017

The poetry of C. H. Sisson (1914-2003) continues to fascinate for its stringency, its peculiar metrical accent, its radical Englishness, religious power and countercultural force. Sisson’s relations to various traditions – including classical literature, literary modernism, and Anglicanism – are fruitfully complex. His translations (‘one of the greatest translators of our times’, according to the classicist Jasper Griffin) are as integral to his own poems as Dryden’s and Pound’s were to theirs. In particular, his versions of Catullus, Lucretius, Horace, Virgil, Dante, and Racine, taken together with his highly allusive and assimilative original poems, constitute one of the most important bodies of English reception of Greco-Roman antiquity in the twentieth century.

 Despite sustained support for his work from major critics including Donald Davie, and an enduring body of readers, there has been no previous event devoted specifically to Sisson’s work. With the recent publication of The C. H. Sisson Reader (2014) and a series of centennial articles in P. N. Review  (May-June 2014), the time is ripe for a reassessment of the work of one of modernism’s most distinctive voices.

 This symposium will bring together English scholars, classicists, translation scholars, and poets to explore the relations between Sisson’s modernism, translations, and inheritance of the classical tradition.

 Possible topics include, but are not limited to, the following:

 Sisson and the classical tradition, broadly defined; so:


  • Sisson’s poetry and the Greek and Latin classics
  • Sisson’s translations of the Greek and Latin classics
  • Sisson’s translation of Dante’s Commedia

 We also welcome papers on Sisson’s relations to other traditions, and on other topics, for example:


  • Sisson’s relations to modernism (e.g., Pound, Eliot, Geoffrey Hill), especially where these may overlap with classicism or translation
  • Sisson’s relations to the Movement poets
  • Sisson’s relation to poets of ‘Englishness’ (e.g. Edward Thomas, Philip Larkin, Geoffrey Hill)
  • Sisson and Anglicanism
  • Sisson and politics
  • Sisson’s technique (e.g. poetic metre and form, diction, etc.)

We invite abstracts of 300 words (plus a brief biographical note) for papers of twenty minutes. Abstracts from PhD students, early career scholars and contributors from outside academia are all welcome.

Abstracts by 15 December 2016 to Victoria Moul:

Depending on the outcome of funding applications, support for travel and accommodation expenses may be available.

We are very grateful to Brigham Young University whose support has made this event possible.