'"The Thucydides Trap' and Interpreting Classical Texts in Real Time"

Tuesday, November 14, 2017
7:30 PM - 9:00 PM (ET)
Event Type
Distinguished Visitors Program

Distinguished Visitor Emily Greenwood, Senior Majors' Visiting Speaker in Classics, Yale University 

Politicos in Washington hailed Summer 2017 as the “summer of Thucydides” and obsessed over lessons for US-China relations in Thucydides’ History. This was only the most recent iteration of Thucydides fever; at different points in the history of Europe and North America, Thucydides has been co-opted as a movable intellectual ancestor, authority-figure, and commentator on hegemony and interstate relations. Neville Morley has written, memorably, about the recurring Thucydides ‘meme’. Read in this circular way, where we look to Thucydides for ideas that we expect to find there or have indeed placed there, we miss the potential to be surprised by the History and to truly read the present in light of the past. This talk will explore a counter-reading of Thucydides’ History in which the value of the work for the present is more akin to a novel of failure, including the failure, on the part of Thucydides and his contemporaries, to read their “classics” attentively. 

Emily Greenwood is Professor of Classics at Yale University and Chair of the Department of Classics. She gained a Ph.D. in Classics from Cambridge University and was a research fellow at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge, then an assistant professor at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, before joining the Classics Department at Yale in 2009. Her research interests include Ancient Greek prose genres (especially historiography), responses to Classics in Africa and the black diaspora, and the theory and practice of translating ancient Greek and Roman authors. She is the author of two books: Thucydides and the Shaping of History (2006), and Afro-Greeks: Dialogues between Anglophone Caribbean Literature and Classics in the Twentieth Century (2010), which was joint winner of the 2011 Runciman Award. She has also co-edited two volumes: Homer in the Twentieth Century: Between World Literature and the Western Canon (2007, with Barbara Graziosi) and Reading Herodotus: A Study of the Logoi in Book 5 of Herodotus' Histories (with Liz Irwin). She is currently working on two book projects: Comparing Thucydides, and An Encyclopedia of Black Classicism.

Tea at 7:15 PM

Sponsored by the Department of Classics in Conjunction with the Distinguished Visitors Program

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