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Counter-Orientalism and Modern Greco-Arabic Studies

By Aileen Das (University of Michigan)

With its emphasis on western portrayals of the ‘East’, Said’s formulation of orientalism has attracted criticism for affording non-western persons little agency in shaping their identities.

Sophonisba: The Development of an "Oriental" Femme Fatale

By Samuel Agbamu (Royal Holloway, University of London)

Sophonisba: The Development of an ‘Oriental’ femme fatale

Representations of feminine alterity have long been recognised as central to discourses of Orientalism. Shelly Haley’s 1989 study of Livy’s portrayal of the Carthaginian noblewoman Sophonisba highlights her role in inscribing difference between Roman male and North African female. Haley shows that Sophonisba forms a triptych of seductive North African female alterity with Dido, and Cleopatra. However, despite Haley’s work, of this threatening trio, Sophonisba is the least known today.

Oriental/ized Orientalists: The Asian American East-West Classicism of Achilles Fang and Younghill Kang

By Spencer Lee-Lenfield (Yale University)

During the mid-twentieth century, both the Harvard-based academic Achilles Fang and the itinerant novelist-translator Younghill Kang (of, respectively, Chinese and Korean heritage) supported themselves as émigrés to the United States by working as scholars of the East Asian ancient past. They combined their upbringings in the waning days of East Asia’s neo-Confucian educational régime with the formidable training in Latin and Greek they acquired in American universities, resulting in bodies of work filled with offhand comparisons between “Eastern” and “Western” antiquities.

"Now and then I hear the youths mutter": Hybrid Traditions of Reception in Haizi's To Sappho

By Jiaqi Maria Ma (Yale University)

Obscure and sparsely published during his lifetime, the Chinese poet Haizi has rapidly gained both a large cult following and controversial mainstream recognition since his suicide in March, 1989. In his expansive oeuvre, Haizi drew widely upon the works of Eastern and Western artists and writers, and scholars have examined how he synthesized these diverse influences into a “poetic epistemological path” (Yang 2018) in pursuit of a cultural, spiritual, and intellectual identity (Wu 2011, Kunze 2012).

Elektra under martial Law: Lino Brocka's Insiang (1976) at the Limits of Classical Reception

By Kiran Pizarro Mansukhani (The Graduate Center, City University of New York)

As the first Filipino film screened at the Cannes Film Festival, Lino Brocka’s Insiang (1976) is considered a seminal work of Filipino cinema. Set in the Manila slum of Tondo during Ferdinand Marcos’ Martial Law regime, Insiang follows its eponymous protagonist in a revenge plot heavily reminiscent of Euripides’ Elektra. While much has been written on the film as anti-Marcos commentary, there has been minimal discussion of the film as a piece of classical reception within this political commentary.