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Summer Vacation Reading List 2020

Please see below for a few things you could do in preparation for this module over this summer's vacation, 2020.

First, you can start by reading some (or all!) of the primary texts. We will devote the first term to representations of Africa and African people in Greek and Latin literary texts; in the second term, we will read ancient African authors or authors writing in Africa, as well as some modern black authors engaging with texts of the Greek and Roman traditions. The Syllabus is meant to be comprehensive, but there will be no need to cover all of these texts in detail. We will, however, focus on some of them, so you may want to start reading and thinking about them:

  • While we will only read extracts from other authors, we will read three whole ancient plays, so these are a good place to start reading over the summer. I would recommend you to read Aeschylus' Suppliant Women and Plautus' Little Carthaginian. If you have time, you can then also start reading Euripides' Helen and the first book of Virgil's Aeneid. NB If you are taking the module as a Latin-language option, you can start reading in the original Latin the prescribed sections of the Poenulus (lines 1-128 and 949-1173) and of Aeneid 1 (lines 335-756)
  • In the second term, we will read extracts from Hellenistic poets, from Apuleius and from the African Fathers of the Church, as well as from some selected contemporary black authors. While next year we will only read extracts from Ralph Ellison and Derek Walcott, you are expected to read Toni Morrison's Beloved in its entirety, so that would make for timely (if tough) 2020 summer reading. You are also encouraged to read her essay Unspeakable Things Unspoken: The Afro-American Presence in American Literature, which you can find online here.

Secondly, you may want to start reading some of the secondary literature and the debates surrounding these topics.

  • I would suggest to start by having a look at the introduction and volume African Athena, which you can find online here. You can also start getting familiar with the Black Athena debate by watching this documentary and reading the eidolon articles by McCoskey and Daniels.
  • You should also be familiar to critical race theory and its application to Classical studies. You can download a leaflet about Critical Race Theory here, and as a starting point for Critical Race Theory and Classics, I very much recommend Shelley Haley's article. If you haven't yet done so, 2020 is the year to finally get acquainted with anti-racist literature, and Reni Eddo-Lodge Why I'm no longer talking to white people about race is a good start. If you don't want to read, or purchase, the book, there are many articles and videos online.
  • If you want to read some secondary scholarship to accompany your study of the primary texts, I would recommend Phiroze Vasunia's The Gift of the Nile for Herodotus, Euripides and Aeschylus. Unfortunately we do not have this as e-book, but you can find a scanned chapter online on Talis Aspire. You can also read my Carthage in Virgil's Aeneid on Plautus and Virgil. Please note that both Talis Aspire and the bibliography page of the module include plenty of secondary literature, divided into sections, so feel free to start exploring it.
  • In 2020-2021 I wish to offer informal reading groups and discussions on race and racism in Classics, starting with a seminar in the Autumn term about the racist incidents occurred in San Diego at the 2019 joint meeting of the Society of Classical Studies and Archaeological Institute of America, on which I would encourage you to read Josephine Quinn’s CUCD report. I very much hope you will join these sessions and you can register your interest here.