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    The Woman They Made Myth About: Medea and the Power of Retelling in Euripides and James Ijames
    (2023) Pleasure-Kranowitz, Eden; Sigelman, Asya C.
    Ancient Greek plays performed at the Dionysia were not isolated in terms of the stories they told; rather, they were part of a massive cultural context that all Athenian citizens had, telling stories that were woven into the fabric of everyone’s daily lives. People going to see a Homeric epic, or a play by one of the great tragedians or comedians, more than likely knew the stories they were about to see, having been told such stories their whole lives. What they didn’t know was what exactly the playwright planned to convey through these myths and characters that were so familiar to the public. Take Medea, for instance. The story of Medea had existed (and had even been performed) well before Euripides wrote his version of it, but Euripides added his own artistic influences, while bringing the current events of his time into the world of the play, or vice versa (bringing the myth into his reality). Euripides wrote his Medea as an Ancient Greek, for Ancient Greeks (Athenians, specifically), within the context of the larger Ancient Greek culture. When someone from the year, say, 2023, reads or watches the Euripidean play, that context is no longer there, and many of the references may no longer hold relevance to the viewer. Here, we find a dilemma; how should we, an audience separated from Classical Greece by both space and time (thousands of years even), engage with this piece, when so much of our cultural experience is different from that of the Ancient Greeks? Modern playwright James Ijames responds to this dilemma by taking the characters of Medea’s story and positioning them within a modern American context, adding his own artistic and stylistic choices, and bringing in issues modern to the current discussion of his time. In this paper, I explore the interactions between Ancient Greek mythos and its reinterpretation by playwrights across time. In short, this is a reception study of the story of Medea, as told by two very different people, living in two very different cultural environments. I will also focus on the genealogical connection between Circe and Medea, and the importance of genealogy to the Ancient Greeks. The overarching theme of this paper will focus on Medea, specifically the story of Medea, as a microcosm of the interactions between modern and ancient retellings. I will zero in on Euripides’ and Ijames’ takes on the Medea myth, and how they act in communication with one another, as well as with the broader narrative world in which Medea lives, i.e. the ancient Greek mythos.
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    A Feminist Exploration of the Mother-Daughter Relationship in Euripides’ Elektra
    (2023) Pak, Celine; Farmer, Matthew C.
    This paper engages with two Black feminist theorists, Audre Lorde and Saidiya Hartman, in order to identify a liberatory methodology with which one can create a positive reading of Elektra and Clytemnestra, the two central female figures within Euripides’ Elektra. The paper focuses particularly on the effects of language and narrative on one’s perceived reality, and attempts to center each woman’s words, even as their words and narratives affect one another. In doing so, the final goal of the paper is to look at the mother-daughter relationship between the two characters as a whole, and the tragic effects of that relationship that inundate the play.
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    Canine Connections: Perceptions of Dogs and Dog Symbolism in Homer and Hesiod
    (2023) Neuschotz, Alexander J.; Mulligan, Bret
    This thesis traces the discussion of dogs in Homer and Hesiod first from a narrative point of view, including their role in what I call canine-based tonal transitioning, wherein they draw the focus away from any preceding dominant emotion or theme in order to establish a tone that is consistent with episodes to follow; their narrative significance; their capacity for foreshadowing; and their reflective properties. These reflective properties naturally lead into a treatment of dogs in the context of moral judgements, including the role of gender on which aspects of dogs are emphasized in human comparisons, and a consideration of the use of canine traits in insults and compliments. In particular, this thesis considers the consequences of Pandora, the first woman, being said to have a “bitchy” mind. Lastly, this thesis combines the preceding discussions, along with other observations, in the formulation of my Canine Manifold Theory, which develops a holistic picture of dogs in antiquity by tracing patterns between differing but locally-consistent portrayals.
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    Medea in America: Afrocentric Receptions in the 21st Century
    (2023) Mears, Liam; Roberts, Deborah H.
    In this thesis, I look at two Afrocentric adaptations of Euripides’ Medea, originally an Athenian tragedy from the 5th century BCE recounting the story of Jason and Medea in Colchis, and Medea’s revenge plot when she finds out her husband is leaving her for the princess. In it I argue for the importance of new and innovative forms of reception, and specifically how the growing tradition of Afrocentric classical reception can read new meaning into texts as well as draw ancient themes into the modern world in order to tell new and meaningful stories. I look at two specific plays, Silas Jones’ “American Medea” (1995) and James Ijames’ “Media” (2023). Both of these plays offer distinct reimagining’s of Medea’s mythology, showing us two versions of the Medea character, one set in the early 1700’s and the other in the modern day. In both versions, Medea retains many of the attributes associated with her in antiquity, but the authors develop her character throughout their separate narratives in a way that redefines her in both settings. In each version, Medea and Jason’s children feature much more prominently as characters, and their development contributes to the evolution of the Medea myth.
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    In Spirit More Than Flesh: Epistolary Codes, Friendship, and Social Networks in 8th Century Women’s Letters to St. Boniface
    (2023) Hamilton, Marion; Conybeare, Catherine
    This thesis addresses the ways in which letters construct both the sender and recipient through formal characteristics such as epistolary codes and topoi as well as through the language of friendship and kinship. It looks specifically at a set of five letters from women living in monastic contexts in the 8th century in the British Isles written to St. Boniface. In reading these letters closely, the goal is to understand how these women interacted with the language of letter-writing and how analysis of their letters under the assumption of letters as a literary genre can help understand how they construct both themselves and Boniface. Letters provide a unique site for this type of analysis as they straddle the line of the private and public. They are extremely sensitive to social roles and thus provide ample room to understand how these women occupied their roles in life and exercised power and agency within the limits they lived by. I argue that, while they generally do not break with the epistolary and social roles assigned to them, the ways these women utilize the epistolary genre is highly sophisticated and they reveal (intentionally) a world in which they wield significant power and may participate in cultures of friendship that were often closed to women.