Institute of Greece, Rome, and the Classical Tradition: 2021 Morse Lecture – Professor Patrice Rankine

The Institute of Greece, Rome, and the Classical Tradition is delighted to announce that Prof. Patrice Rankine will be giving the 2021 Morse Lecture on the 4th of March at 5pm. It is an online event and is free to attend.

TOUCHING THE BODY: SOME OBSERVATIONS ON RIGHTS, PUNISHMENT, AND JUSTICE, WITH REFERENCE TO PROMETHEUS, EMMETT TILL, AND GEORGE FLOYD.

This paper’s literary focal point is James Baldwin’s 1964 play, Blues for Mister Charlie, which adapts the 1955 lynching of Emmett Till for the stage. As a courtroom drama concerned with rights, punishment, and justice, the play is an example of enduring classical themes, even in the absence of evidence of direct classical reception. Even though it does not make any direct reference or allusion to Aeschylus’ Oresteia, Prometheus, or any of the ancient texts on justice (e.g., Homer, Plato, Aristotle), Baldwin’s Blues for Mister Charlie asks classic questions about race and punishment in America that endure into the 21st century, the killing of George Floyd a chilling coda to the past century.

 

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