Diverse Adaptations of Classical Literature

Romare Bearden: A Black Odyssey

The Land of the Lotus Eaters, 1977, Collage of various papers with paint and graphite on fiberboard, 36 x 48 inches. From Romare Bearden: A Black Odyssey

“A Picasso or a Miro will use Spanish background and culture- this is what they grew up with, it is a source of strength to them. But we must remember that people other than Spaniards can appreciate Goya...An artist is an art lover who finds that in all the art that he sees, something is missing: to put there what he feels is missing becomes the center of his life’s work” - Romare Bearden [1]

The study and teaching of Greek and Roman Classical Civilization is largely a white and male tradition. As there are increasing calls for diversity in academia, Classics has made some strides, but largely from students and early career scholars, raising the questions about just who is Classics ‘for’? This exhibit showcases items from the UT Libraries collection of original classical Greek literature in translation and contemporary adaptations created by a more diverse authorship than usually discussed. In this context, diverse is defined as people of color, women and/or those from LGBTQ communities. UT Libraries contain a depth of diverse adaptations but showcased here are works of authors from Latinx & Latin American, African & African Diaspora, Asian-American and LGBTQ communities. Variety of adaptation is also highlighted in the form of plays, novels, visual art and in a wide array of translations and scholarly approach. The collection and themes presented in this exhibit on diverse adaptations are intended to encourage those who may not have historically felt included in conversations related to classics or classical literature. For those already engaged in classics, they can see the evolution of translation studies and how classical antiquity draws parallels to the contemporary realities of diverse communities.

In highlighting diverse perspectives and publications, this exhibit calls attention to the  issue of diversity in the field of Classics itself. This showcase also challenges us to grapple with questions around structural issues such as the lack of retention of those from underrepresented backgrounds in the academy. It will take a combination of entities and systemic efforts to transform a field that historically does not include people of color or queer scholarship. This exhibit asks us to redefine who Classics is 'for' by delving into how the ancient world has been received and recontextualized by diverse adaptations engaging with classical literature.  As such, it is but one effort to illustrate a fresh and more nuanced face of a field that many still consider to be a dusty, old profession for white men.

Notes

[1] Patton, Sharon. “Memory and Metaphor: The Art of Romare Bearden, 1940-1987.” Memory and Metaphor: The Art of Romare Bearden, 1940-1987. New York: Studio Museum in Harlem/Oxford, 1991. 31.

Citation: Cásarez, Adriana, curator.  (2020) Diverse Adaptations of Classical Literature  https://utlibrariescollectionhighlights.omeka.net/exhibits/show/diversity_classics/

Introduction