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American Classical Scholarship, Comedy, and Disorientation

Constanze Güthenke, University of Oxford

April 4, 2023 · 4:30 pm6:00 pm · East Pyne 010 and Zoom

Department of Classics

In its institutional genesis, classical scholarship in America looked to Europe as a point of reference, creating a complex triangulation between modern America, contemporary Europe, and the ancient world. Aristophanic Old Comedy – its tropes and its study – is an excellent paradigm with which to think through the dialectic and symbiotic relationships that marked American perception vis-à-vis Europe in disciplinary terms. Realism and fantasy, literal and figurative language, innovation and conservatism, the fear of ridicule and the power of mockery, violence and play, restraint and exaggeration, freedom and unfreedom, being reactive and creative, coming after and coming first, subversion and affirmation, and superiority and abjection — those are features of Old Comedy, but they are also suggestive categories to consider the situation of American classical scholarship, its disciplining, and its disorientations.

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