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College of Arts and Sciences

Townsend Lectures to focus on home in the ancient Mediterranean

By: Linda B. Glaser,  A&S Communications
September 6, 2019

Princeton classics professor Barbara Graziosi will deliver the three-part Townsend Lectures on the theme of “Homecoming and Homemaking in the Ancient Mediterranean.” The lectures will begin at 4:30 p.m. in 165 McGraw Hall. The talks are free and the public is invited.

Although focused on the ancient Mediterranean, the lectures, said Graziosi, “take their cue from the present moment, asking what it means to go back where you came from or, conversely, make yourself at home in a new place.”

The first lecture will focus on what makes a satisfying story – and who gets to go home. “Reading the Odyssey, with Virginia Woolf,” on Sept. 10, will be followed by a reception in the History of Art Gallery.

The second lecture, on Sept. 13, will explore the question, “how can you love a home you do not yet have?” and is titled “Finding Italy, with Lycophron and Virgil.” The final lecture, on Sept. 17, will explore the links between nation-building and nostalgia and is titled “Giving up on Ithaca, with Ugo Foscolo.” Refreshments will be served in Rm. 119, Goldwin Smith Hall, following these two lectures.

Verity Platt, professor of classics and history of art, noted that “we are extremely fortunate that Professor Graziosi is delivering this year’s Townsend Lectures. As one of our most brilliant Homerists, her approach to the longer history of the poems’ cultural reception means that she is uniquely poised to explore how they speak to our present concerns. We encourage all in the Cornell community to attend what is sure to be a very dynamic and thought-provoking series."

Graziosi is professor of classics at Princeton University. Her research focuses on ancient Greek literature and the ways in which audiences and readers make it their own. Her books include “Homer: A Very Short Introduction,” “The Gods of Olympus: A History,” and “Inventing Homer” and she is co-author of “Homer: The Resonance of Epic.” She is co-editor of “Homer in the Twentieth Century: Between World Literature and the Western Canon” and the “Oxford Handbook of Hellenic Studies.” From 2013 to 2018 Graziosi directed a major research project funded by the European Research Council on the lives and portraits of classical poets.

The Townsend Lectures were established in 1985 by the Department of Classics with a bequest from the late Daphne Townsend, a longtime benefactor of Cornell and the department, in memory of her late husband, Prescott Townsend, Cornell class of 1916.