Medea in America: Afrocentric Receptions in the 21st Century
Haverford College. Department of Classics
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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.