Mettle, Metal, and Medal, or Autotheorizing Contemporary Classical Scholarship
“Mettle, Metal, and Medal”, Dr. Eccleston reflects on the racialized and gendered stakes of thinking about and with the ancient Greek (and Roman) classics today. Suzan-Lori Parks’ 2015 drama, Father Comes Home from the Wars, is often marketed as an adaptation of Homer’s epic poem, Odyssey. Parks has repeatedly rejected this mantle. Using this rejection as a provocation, Dr. Eccleston explains how the play’s interest in the meaning and values that adhere to materials like metal and flesh responds to the politics of Homer’s Odyssey and, no less interestingly, to the fault lines of contemporary ancient Greek and Roman studies.
Dr. Eccleston’s written work often interrogates the relationship between materials, identity, and the politics of embodied difference under and in response to large-scale sociopolitical change. Her research crosses and interrogates disciplinary boundaries between Classics and English, American Studies, Black Studies, and Comparative Literature. Dr. Eccleston co-founded Eos, the scholarly society dedicated to Africana receptions of Ancient Greek and Roman culture; she also co-founded the international conference series Racing the Classics with Dan-el Padilla. She is currently coediting a special issue of Transactions of the American Philological Association, entitled Race and Racism: Beyond the Spectacular, with Patrice Rankine. Dr. Eccleston is currently completing her first book, Epic Events (Yale University Press, under contract). Epic Events delves into a heterogeneous archive of contemporary texts (i.e. speeches, films, statues, public art pieces, museums, novels, poetry, and articles) that engage ancient Greek and Roman material to explain the politics of time in the US. Especially interested in works produced by minoritized artists, the project strikes new ground by demonstrating the necessity of comparative racialization for Classical reception studies and connecting the temporalities of recent national crises to possible disciplinary future(s).
She holds many honors including but not limited to: a Rhodes Scholarship, the National Endowment for the Humanities/Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Rome Prize in Ancient Studies, and a Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship.