Classics and Feminism is the first book-length study of the impact of modern feminism on the discipline and profession of classics in the United States and the only such investigation to document its assertions through statistical studies of scholarly and professional trends. Combining a wide-ranging overview of historical and current developments with in-depth analysis and examples, the book has relevance for anyone interested in the role of feminism in the academy. Because the history of classics has been so deeply implicated in androcentric structures of knowledge and patriarchal social patterns, it illustrates with exceptional clarity many issues endemic to academic feminism as a whole.
Barbara McManus provides an illuminating analysis of the complex gender performance demanded of academic women as "disembodied scholars." She defines and illustrates the distinctive aspects of a feminist approach to scholarship and argues that gender analysis is crucially important in traditionally masculine areas as well as in the study of women. She explains the theoretical and methodological principles developed by feminist classical scholars seeking to recover information about women from scanty and scattered evidence filtered through centuries of patriarchal interpretation.
McManus has compiled important historical and longitudinal information on changes in classical studies in the United States over the last three decades. She convincingly demonstrates the progressive nature of feminism's influence on the field with evidence that will counter images of classics as an outmoded discipline that has nothing to say to contemporary students. She provides a wealth of quantitative data--made intelligible through tables and charts--as well as substantive qualitative evidence, including a feminist rereading of Vergil's Aeneid. A particularly welcome feature of the book lies in McManus's lucid explanation of features that characterize various types of contemporary classical scholarship.
McManus envisions the relationship of feminism and classics as a complex chorus of many voices singing in counterpoint. She argues that feminism's impact on classics has been radical but not revolutionary, leading to a redirection of the discipline and a redefining of professional boundaries. The last chapter of the book presents the voices of many individual classicists from across the country who eloquently describe the way feminism has influenced their perceptions, teaching, and scholarship.
Written with equal commitment to modern feminism, the discipline of classics, and the teaching profession, Classics and Feminism will be hailed as a ground-breaking appraisal of the field.
revised January 1999