The Koraes Chair

The Koraes Chair of Modern Greek and Byzantine History, Language and Literature

Introduction

For nearly a century the incumbents of the Koraes Chair have been global leaders in the study of post-classical Greek history, language and literature. Taken as a whole, their work constitutes a crucial reservoir of knowledge and expertise for the people of Greece, Cyprus and the worldwide Greek diaspora. As we approach the 100th anniversary of the Chair in 2018 and as Greece assumes an increasingly prominent and strategic position on the international stage, at the very leading edge of the European Union’s engagement with the Middle East, the time is right to re-endow the Chair. Our ambition is to raise £1.64 million from a range of sources in order to secure the future of the study of Greek history, language and literature of the modern and medieval periods, for the next 100 years.

 The Koraes Chair and Hellenic Studies at King’s

Named after Adamantios Koraes (1748–1833), a major figure in the Greek Enlightenment, the Chair owes its existence to the extraordinary vision of Greeks living in London a century ago, including Helena Schilizzi and Ioannes Gennadius, with the support of the Greek statesman Eleftherios Venizelos and the classical scholar Ronald Burrows, who was then Principal of King’s. It is indicative of the prestige of the Chair that no fewer than four of its incumbents – including the present one, Professor Roderick Beaton – have been Fellows of the British Academy, which is the highest academic honour in the Humanities in the UK.

Ever since it was established in 1918, the Koraes Chair has been the beacon around which post-classical Greek (Hellenic) studies have been organised within the University of London and specifically at King’s. It is housed within the Department of Classics, one of only a very small number of university departments around the world where it is possible to study the history of Greece from the Bronze Age to the present day within a single academic unit. Among the twenty-seven permanent academic staff in Classics at King’s, there is a further Professor of modern Greek studies, a Senior Lecturer and a Lecturer in Byzantine studies. Six members of staff are themselves of Greek origin. The Department has approximately 250 undergraduate and 80 graduate students, making it one of the largest departments of its kind in the UK, and it was ranked 3rd for research in the UK by the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF).

Our alumni occupy key posts in universities, businesses, public administration and the diplomatic services in Greece, Cyprus and beyond. Moreover, King’s as a whole has long enjoyed a special relationship with Greek and Cypriot students: over 100 students from Greece and 50 students from Cyprus enrol at the College every year, and we have more than 3,000 alumni resident in Greece and Cyprus. Academics from King’s are regular visitors to Greece and Cyprus, and often give public talks there, in Greek or English.

The future

We are striving to ensure the future of this crucial reservoir of knowledge and expertise for the people of Greece, Cyprus and the worldwide Greek diaspora. Securing the future of this Chair at King’s will enable us to build on a century of promoting knowledge and understanding of the Hellenic world, of all historical periods, upon an international stage.

The original endowment, made in 1918, was sufficient to cover the costs of employing a full professor a century ago. Over the years the real value of the capital has not kept pace with rising costs in the education sector, while UK government funding for the Humanities has been sharply declining. This is why we now need external support to secure the future of the Koraes Chair at King’s. This would enable us to have a global impact by promoting knowledge and understanding of the post-classical Greek world in all the rich diversity of its history and creative achievements. By connecting the past with the present and by looking imaginatively and critically to the future, the Koraes Chair is dedicated to enhancing understanding of Greece and Greeks, their modern and medieval history and culture, within the English-speaking world today.

We are launching an appeal in 2016 to re-endow this unique Chair and are deeply grateful for the support of a number of donors who have already generously pledged over £540,000 towards this endowment.

We would be delighted to discuss opportunities at a variety of levels to support this unique endeavour.

For further information please contact Sarah Player, E: sarah.player@kcl.ac.uk, T: +44 (0)207 848 2469

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