Imagining the future of classics pedagogy: an introductory-level, undergraduate course on Medea, intersectionality, and Beloved
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Over the past two years the field of Classics, alongside many other disciplines, has undergone a much more public and mainstream reckoning with its complicity in institutionalized racism and other discriminatory, even oppressive practices. While many folks in Classics have already been doing the work to make the field a more equitable space, this recent reckoning asks us to think critically about how we can work to dismantle oppression in our field and society at large--some even wonder if Classics can both exist viably in its current iteration and in a potential anti-oppression capacity. Thus, this project was an exercise of imagination: perhaps the best way to envision a Classics invested in anti-racism and anti-oppression was to envision a whole new Classics entirely. I sought to imagine and craft an introductory-level Classics course, where one's education in the ancient Mediterranean would be grounded in anti-racist, liberatory practices and frameworks. Medea is the focal point of the course due to her positionality as a foreigner, woman, sorceress, mother, etc. I argue that Medea's many iterations offer the classroom a unique way to examine intersectionality both in ancient Greco-Roman literature and our classroom's contemporary moment. Intersectionality is just one of the tools students will use to examine identity, power, oppression, and privilege and empower themselves against systems of oppression. Indeed the framework of this course is rooted in transformative justice and abolition, alongside critical pedagogy and Black and Brown feminist theory to work towards cultivating an equitable, inclusive environment that both addresses and repairs harm as well as commits to gratitude, microaffirmations, and other liberatory practices. Indeed, I found my gravitation around transformative justice tactics to be particularly radical in shaping how I envisioned my classroom community to operate--seeking to reimagine and transform the ways both the instructor and the students interact with one another to honor each other's humanity.