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The Strangeness of GodsHistorical Perspectives on the Interpretation of Athenian Religion$
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S.C. Humphreys

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780199269235

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199269235.001.0001

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Classics and Colonialism: towards an erotics of the discipline

Classics and Colonialism: towards an erotics of the discipline

(p.8) 1 Classics and Colonialism: towards an erotics of the discipline
The Strangeness of Gods

S. C. Humphreys

Oxford University Press

This chapter looks at the relation between 19th-century colonialism and the repositioning of classical studies as a university discipline and as a secular alternative to theology. It considers the anthropology of reading (i.e., the conceptions of the person implied by theories and practices of reading) and the history of reading, commentary and interpretation (especially allegorical interpretation). It takes a Lacanian view of academic disciplines, arguing that fetishization and desire are essential to them; the implications for teaching are explored. It suggests that the role of humanities teaching is not merely to train future interpreters of classical texts or to maintain ‘cultural literacy’, but to foster skills of attentive, dialogic reading and to widen students’ awareness of traditions of argument, both in ‘their own’ and in ‘other’ cultures.

Keywords:   academic disciplines, allegory, colonialism, cultural literacy, dialogue, Lacan, reading, teaching, humanities

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