Recent Work

It’s been a very busy year in the Honors College, as we adjust to new growth in our programs. But I’ve been pleased to see some things to completion (for full publication details, see my publications page).

43526Two lengthy articles have appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ancient Greek Language and Linguistics in 2014 (Brill).  One on the translation of the Homeric poems is a continuation of my interests in translation studies, and I used the opportunity to learn more about the ancient Greek paraphrases we find in ancient and medieval manuscripts of the poems.  I am grateful to my colleague Casey Dué Hackney, whose work on the Homer Multitext and manuscripts is an inspiration to us all.  The other article on the Roman Translation of Greek Texts continues another translation interest of mine, and I benefitted from Siobhán McElduff’s great new book, Roman Theories of Translation: Surpassing the Source (Routledge, 2013). I also drew from her co-edited volume,  Complicating the History of Translation: The Ancient Mediterranean In Perspective (St. Jerome, 2011), which I reviewed for Classical Review (64.2 [2014]:1-3).

I think it’s an exciting time to be doing translation studies in Classics, which is why I am pleased to announce that Alexandra Lianeri (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki) and I have finally concluded our negotiations with Wiley-Blackwell for A Companion to Translation of Classical Epic, which we hope to shape into a useful guide not just for the field of translation studies currently existing in classical studies, but also for the future.  We are hoping to blend reception studies and translation studies into something we call translational reception.

Also this year, I completed a book chapter that gives an overview of textual transmission for a forthcoming Companion to Greek Literature (Wiley-Blackwell).   The title might seem strange: “A Wound Not a World: Textual Survival and Transmission.” I decided to begin this survey by first contemplating the vast amount of things we have lost from the ancient world of books, which was an interesting kind of negative research. I then go on to explain how in the light of those losses, even the smallest fragments recovered in papyri can be a substantial advance.  But the metaphor of the wound is now my favorite one for the ancient archive: it’s a wound we tend, not a world we can visit.

Which is not to say we can’t visit the ruins! This year, I also enjoyed joining other University of Houston faculty in conPompeiitributing to the Los Angeles Review of Books, for which I reviewed Ingrid Rowland’s very enjoyable From Pompeii: The Afterlife of a Roman Town. It was great to revisit the sites we saw most recently on our 2012 Honors College Tour of Italy. If you climb to the top of Vesuvius, you certainly develop a wider perspective on how nature and culture are connected in this historic region. Rowland’s book certainly does it justice. Still drawing on that experience, I finally did an episode of Engines of Our Ingenuity on the mass death during the great eruption, “CSI: Herculaneum.” UH_MaisonWhile touring France with another Honors group this summer, I was also able to visit the Maison Carrée of Nîmes to take the picture I’ve needed for another episode.  I have long wanted to write on Thomas Jefferson’s obsession with that ancient Roman temple, so I was glad to finally get that on the air (episode 2977). That was, by the way, my last episode recorded in the MD Anderson library studio with the ever excellent Nate McKee, who has moved on to great things.

On the Freud front, I continue to plug away at Theory and Theatricality: Classical Drama in the Age of Grand Hysteria, the working title of my monograph on Freud, classical drama, and the development of psychological theories between 1880 and 1914 (forthcoming from Oxford UP). This work has taken me into many interesting directions in the medical humanities, including early medical photography. Needless to say, the project has transformed the way in which I think about performance, as I am tracing the simultaneous development of stage performance cultures in Paris and Vienna and theatricality in medical science, particularly in Charcot’s Salpêtrière clinic.  In the course of writing the book, I have spent a long time reading about the long history of hysteria, and I think I have even pinpointed just when the term hysteria was coined, and by whom (one of those small philological victories). You’ll have to wait to find out the details…  I’ll be sharing some of this book with the folks at U Penn in March, where we’ll be doing a conference on Freud in celebration of the Penn Medical School’s 250th anniversary.

While working on the book, I’ve enjoyed reading drafts of my friend Joel Whitebook’s forthcoming intellectual biography of Freud (Cambridge UP). Joel is an intense reader of Freud, one uniquely poised between the practices of psychoanalysis and philosophy.  This will definitely be a book to read when it comes out—stay tuned for that, too!

Also on the Freud front, I completed a contract with Routledge for a Reader’s Guide to the Interpretation of Dreams. Last spring I taught my Myth and Dreams course again, which reminded how amazingly well students write dream analyses.  This made me want to continue this kind of work, in my own writing as well as my teaching. I have long been obsessed with this book, ever since I was a freshman at U Chicago. I have been amassing observations on it for some time, which I hope to disclose in a helpful way in this new project. Luckily my experience at the Blocker Library at UTMB Galveston has shown me just where to find various editions of that work, which has a complex publication history. I look forward to returning to the Blocker to delve more deeply into these things. And of course, I am logging my dreams.

2014 has been a banner year for our series at Ohio State University Press, with three great new books appearing. You can read all about it here. There are even more good things to come in the series very soon, and we are always looking for new work.

2015 will see me hunkered down, finishing the many things I have started. This means no study abroad trips for me this year, though I have been proud to be the first chair of the new Study Abroad / Study Away committee in Honors. We have worked together to create new opportunities for service learning in Haiti and Honduras in particular, and I am very happy to see our Honors students integrating their learning with genuine good works in the world. But I look forward to our “Dream Team Tour of Greece” in 2016, where I will enjoy the good company of my colleagues Casey Dué Hackney, Jonathan Zecher, and Sarah Costello along with our families and of course the ever-eager-to-travel Honors students. And that is truly something to look forward to! (If you’re an interested student, you should act fast! We’re booking up pretty well already!)

Here’s to a productive 2015 for all of us!

About richarda18

Associate Professor of Classical Studies The Honors College at the University of Houston
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