Martin Ostwald Memorial Lecture
Carol Dougherty, the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Classical Studies at Wellesley College, will present the Martin Ostwald Lecture on Thursday, October 24, 2013 at 5:00 pm in Science Center 101. She will speak on 'Improvising the Self in Homer's Odyssey". The talk argues that Odysseus is not just an improviser of song but also of himself. Odysseus, after all, is the Greek hero most known for qualities -- ingenuity, verbal dexterity, cleverness - that might well be called improvisational. Reading the Odyssey within the context of recent work in "improvisatory studies" will show that in addition to working his way out of tight spots, Odysseus invents and reinvents himself throughout the poem. In representing Odysseus as an improviser at both the poetic and thematic level, the Odyssey thus articiulates a notion of identity that is not essential, fixed and unitary, but rather performed, inherently unstable, and perpetually refashioned in response to the unexpected opportunities and obstacles that life in archaic Greece provides.