New Approaches to Classics: Penelope’s {A}typical Thinking

On Monday, January 30th from 3:30 to 5:30pm the Classical Studies department will beholding it next New Approaches to Classics lecture. This lecture will be presented by our very own Professor Laurie Hutcheson! She will be presenting: Penelope’s {A}typical Thinking. How does a Homeric woman make decisions? Does she fit the male heroic model? This lecture will be held in CAS 533B, 725 Commonwealth Ave.Abstract: Penelope’s thought process—in contrast to male heroes’–has been described in turn as intuitive, irrational, inaccessible, and unresolved. The Odyssey represents Penelope deliberating 4 times, more than any other character except Odysseus. I argue that the typical scene of deliberation in the Odyssey is tightly coordinated and differs from the Iliadic model, and that Penelope’s deliberations need to be read in light of this. In particular, Penelope’s choice in book 19 resonates both within this context of Odyssean deliberation and within the Iliadic context of heroic soliloquys; she both aligns with and inverts typical heroic patterns. While she makes decisions amid deep instability, Penelope’s thoughts are articulated clearly and legibly in the reverberative frame of Homeric representations of thought.