Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Friedman, Rachel D. "Review of Lorna Hardwick, et al., eds. CLASSICS IN POST-COLONIAL WORLDS." BMCR (August 2008).

Hardwick, Lorna, and Carol Gillespie, eds. Classics in Post-Colonial Worlds: Classical Presences. Oxford: OUP, 2007.

I take it as a sign of the health of our discipline that it seems no longer possible to dismiss reception studies, or, what used to be called the 'Classical Tradition,' as a minor or even marginal subfield of the discipline of classics. Classicists, slowly catching up with members of other academic fields, have begun realizing that it is no longer sufficient to devote ourselves to the recovery of some positivist philological truth while ignoring the historical, social, and political circumstances that have conditioned the reading of these ancient texts from which these so-called truths have been recovered. Classics in Post-Colonial Worlds, a collection of nineteen papers originally presented at a conference in 2004 at the Open University and published in the Oxford Classical Presences series, is an important indication of the newly prominent place of reception studies in the field of classics and also an interesting barometer of the current state of such studies. It is co-edited by Lorna Hardwick and Carol Gillespie. Hardwick has been an important pioneer in the field and has, in numerous essays and books, laid the groundwork for what these new reception studies might look like. Carol Gillespie is the Project Officer of the Classical Receptions Project at the Open University, of which Hardwick is Director, though unfortunately there is no biographical notice for Gillespie in the list of contributors. This volume takes its place among other recently published collections such as the Blackwell Companion to Classical Receptions (edited by Hardwick and Christopher Stray), and Classics and the Use of Reception (edited by Charles Martindale), all of which perform the important function of exposing scholars to some of the new directions in which the field of classics is expanding. What distinguishes this volume from the others is its exclusive focus on the role of classics in 'post-colonial worlds.' Hardwick explains in her introduction (3) that the terms 'colonial' and 'postcolonial' were, for the purposes of the conference on which this collection is based, "used in their widest sense to include domination and emancipation through educational, ideological, cultural economic means, as well as through physical force." In its exploration both of the role that classics played in colonialism and in the 'writing back' against the empire, this volume serves as an important next step following the volume edited by Barbara Goff in 2005 and published by Duckworth, Classics and Colonialism, which is a collection of essays based on a conference in 2001 at the Institute of Classical Studies in London. Goff says, in her introduction to that volume (1), that the essays "investigate a selection of the ways in which the projects of the British Empire have been furthered or undermined by a cultural politics focused on the classics." Scholars new to this subfield of reception studies will find a rich sampling of the kind of work being done in this area, and scholars already engaged in questions surrounding the intersection of classics and colonialism will surely find many of these new essays stimulating. . . .

Contents: Introduction , Lorna Hardwick Case Studies: (1) Trojan Women in Yorubaland: Femi Osofisan's Women of Owu, Felix Budelmann (2) Antigone's Boat: The Colonial and the Post-colonial in Tegonni: An African Antigone, by Femi Osofisan, Barbara Goff (3) Antigone and her African Sisters: West African Versions of a Greek Original, James Gibbs (4) Cross-Cultural Bonds Between Ancient Greece and Africa: Implications for Contemporary Staging Practices, John Djisenu (5) The Curse of the Canon: Ola Rotimi's The Gods Are Not to Blame, Michael Simpson (6) Post-Apartheid Electra: In the City of Paradise, Elke Steinmeyer (7) Sculpture at Heroes' Acre, Harare, Zimbabwe: Classical Influences?, Jessie Maritz Encounter and New Traditions: (8) Perspectives on Post-Colonialism in South Africa: The Voortrekker Monument's Classical Heritage, Richard Evans (9) Imperial Reflections: The Post-Colonial Verse-Novel as Post-Epic, Katharine Burkitt (10) A Divided Child, or Derek Walcott's Post-Colonial Philology, Cashman Kerr Prince (11) Arriving Backwards: The Return of The Odyssey in the English-Speaking Caribbean, Emily Greenwood (12) `If you are a woman': Theatrical Womanizing in Sophocles' Antigone and Fugard, Kani, and Ntshona's The Island, Rush Rehm (13) Finding a Post-colonial Voice for Antigone: Seamus Heaney's Burial at Thebes, Stephen E. Wilmer Challenging Theory: Framing Further Questions: (14) `The same kind of smile': About the `Use and Abuse' of Theory in Constructing the Classical Tradition, Freddy Decreus (15) From the Peloponnesian War to the Iraq War: A Post-Liberal Reading of Greek Tragedy, Michiel Leezenberg (16) Western Classics, Indian Classics: Postcolonial Contestations, Harish Trivedi (17) Shades of Multilingualism and Multivocalism in Modern Performances of Greek Tragedy in Post-Colonial Contexts, Lorna Hardwick (18) The Empire Never Ended, Ika Willis (19) Another Architecture, David Richards

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