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Barbara Graziosi (Princeton), "Maker of Italy, Champion of Greek Love: Luigi Settembrini's 'The Neoplatonists'"

December 7, 2018 - 12:15pm to 1:30pm

This event is free and open to the public. Lunch will be served at 12:15pm. Talk begins at 12:30pm.

In this paper, Graziosi discusses the fake ancient novel The Neoplatonists by Luigi Settembrini, one of the heroes of the Italian Risorgimento. This short homoerotic tale, which poses as a translation from the Greek, was rediscovered in the 1930s, but could not be published then, under Fascism, as it would have revealed the father of the fatherland Settembrini as the author of sodomitic fantasies. It eventually appeared in the 1970s: that sensationalist publication turned Settembrini into a gay icon overnight – and meanwhile obscured his work as an Italian patriot and classical scholar. Graziosi's aim, in presenting what will eventually become a new edition, introduction, and translation of The Neoplatonists is to place the work between classical philology and political activism, between the nationalist revolutions of the 1840s–60s and the sexual revolutions of the 1960s–70s; between (heterosexual) autobiography and (homosexual) classicizing fantasy; and, ultimately, between nationalist and identity politics today. The hope is to illustrate—by way of one concrete example – how the study of classical literature opens up creative and revolutionary ways of thinking about the (personal and collective) future.

Barbara Graziosi is Professor of Classics at Princeton University. Before moving to Princeton, she was educated at Oxford and Cambridge and taught at Oxford, Reading, and Durham. She is a prolific scholar with broad research interests that include, among other things, Homeric epic and its receptions, ancient Greek representations of the gods, textual and visual represenations of Greek and Roman poets, and Optical Character Recognition of ancient Greek. Graziosi has also contributed to a variety of French, Italian, British, and American television and radio programs and written numerous reviews of both classics and contemporary fiction for the Times Literary Supplement, the Times Higher Education, and The London Review of Books.

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Department of Classics
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