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400Philosophy and Literature Feminist Theory and the Classics, edited by Nancy Sorkin Rabinowitz and Amy Richlin; ? & 314 pp. New York: Routledge, 1993, $65.95 cloth, $16.95 paper. Of all scholarly disciplines, that of the classics may well be the most resistant to feminist critique. Classical scholars have traditionally defined Greco-Roman antiquity as the origin of a Western civilization defined in Eurocentric, ethnocentric, and androcentric terms. While the essays in this volume privilege the importance of classical study, the authors argue very convincingly for feminist rereadings of classical texts, cultures, and civilizations. The significance of this overdue, and at times unhappy, marriage of feminist theory and the classics is paramount. The implications for a serious and rigorous revisioning of classical study are potentially far-reaching—with future reverberations to be felt in all fields whose inheritances include antiquity. The feminist classicists present in this volume challenge traditional interpretations of Western culture, reject traditional classicists' claims of philological objectivity, assert the usefulness of contemporary theory for classical study, and raise previously unasked questions about race, class, and gender. These arguments serve as a means of moving classical study beyond the problematic boundaries erected by generations ofscholars whose (mis)readings ofantiquity have led to the apparent silence of women and others and to an equally problematic misreading of the subsequent legacy of Western civilization. A subsidiary argument that runs throughout the volume is the desire of feminist classicists to achieve their own respected position of legitimacy within the larger domain of feminist studies. A particular strength of the volume lies in the degree of erudition and rigor demonstrated in the articles. Offerings from Judith P. Hallett, Marilyn B. Skinner, and Shelby Brown are especially strong, displaying the rigor one expects from classics scholars. Hallett's piece, "Feminist Theory, Historical Periods, Literary Canons, and the Study of Greco-Roman Antiquity," provides a thorough overview of the discipline with particular attention given to the past two decades of contributions made by feminist scholars. Drawing on the work of French feminists, Skinner turns to the works of Sappho to demonstrate the necessity of reconfiguring the boundaries that traditionally defined a GrecoRoman gender dialectic that silenced women and privileged the male voice. Brown, a trained classical archaeologist, conjoins theory and praxis in her article, "Feminist Research in Archaeology: What Does It Mean? Why Is It Taking So Long?" Here we see laid bare the most disturbing ruptures in the rubric of traditional classical study. Brown points out the biases and limitations inherent in traditional archaeological practice, while arguing for a feminist corrective. She asserts, as do the other contributors to the volume, that classical study (in this case archaeological research) is a relative and subjective endeavor and that gender, "an essential factor of human culture," demands its inclusion Reviews401 in historical study. She concludes that feminist archaeologists are striving "to become self-aware, but remain silent about our personal experiences; and to be objective in our research methodologies, but subjective and imaginative in our interpretations." Contributions by Shelley P. Haley, Barbara K Gold, and Diana Robin provide interesting applications of contemporary feminist theory for approaching the classics: Black feminist thought, AliceJardine's theory of gynesis, and contemporary film theory. The remaining articles, by Bella Zweig, Tina Passman, Peter W. Rose, and Amy Richlin, raise some very challenging questions whose concerns deserve fuller treatment elsewhere. The essays by Zweig, Passman, and Rose are largely self-referential and seem to do little more than present the personal agendas of the authors—the very concern the volume criticizes in the exclusionary practices of traditional classicists. While the Native American, lesbian, and Marxist orientations of scholars are legitimate and important approaches of study, the connections between these angles of interpretation and classical study need to be made much more clearly, rigorously, and convincingly in order to demonstrate the actual value of the connections these writers note. Richlin's piece ends the volume where it begins with two concluding questions: "What would [feminist theory] mean for classics? What can we do to make a difference?" This volume provides a useful collection of rigorously documented essays that begin to answer these questions. The volume demonstrates not only the importance offeminist theory for...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 400-401
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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