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Saturday, December 23, 2017

Women And Power

I enjoy Mary Beard's writing -- both her popular and more academic work on Roman history and institutions especially -- and also admire her clarity, cordiality, and ferocious public persona. I read her latest book, Women and Power: A Manifesto yesterday. Public speech and the political subjecthood figured through such speech has been indicatively male since the Greeks, and the brutalizing policing of women's voices has characteristic and conspicuous continuities ever since. The book weighs in at just a hundred or so pages, and many are devoted to edifyingly garish paintings of classical subjects. I managed most of it while soaking in a lovely hot bath. Nothing not to like, really, but nothing really new there, either, I may excerpt the text (or earlier essays from which it was largely compiled) the next time I teach on gender in antiquity, since the tone is clear and conversational and the references nicely topical. You're probably better off reading her on Pompeii or the triumph -- though in her conclusion Beard genuflected in the direction of larger and thornier questions of gender that may indicate her future scholarship may take on feminist resonances more explicitly and in ways from which we will all benefit.

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