POUGHKEEPSIE, NY—Classicist Lora L. Holland, the Blegen Research Fellow in Classics for 2009–2010 at Vassar College, will discuss “The ‘Position’ of Women: A Short History of Sex and Scholarship in Roman Religion” on Wednesday, April 21. Free and open to the public, the program will begin at 5:00pm in the living room of Alumnae House. This presentation is the annual Blegen Lecture sponsored by the Classics Department.
Holland will explore the scholarly contributions of some of the early female pioneers in the field of Roman religion and examine how they may have interpreted the role of women, especially Vestal virgins, in Roman religion differently from their male counterparts.
Working in what was then a newly distinct subfield of Classical studies, some of these early 20th-century scholars are now all but forgotten, some became relatively famous, and a few spent time at Vassar as members of the faculty.
As Holland puts it, “The vicissitudes of their private and academic lives in a male-dominated field and the lasting influences of the nineteenth-century hypercritical and idealistic approaches to the evidence provide fascinating insights into the history of the scholarship on Roman religion. This history also helps to explain why advances in gender studies, literary criticism, and religious studies made during the second half of the 20th century are only now beginning to effect definitive changes in new and exciting 21st century approaches to the study of gendered participation in Roman religion.”
Lora L. Holland is associate professor of classics at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, and a visiting fellow in Greek and Roman religion at the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, D.C. She is the author of Religion of the Roman Republic, forthcoming from Wiley-Blackwell Publishers (Malden, MA; and Oxford).
Every year the Vassar Classics Department appoints a Blegen Distinguished Visiting Research Professor or a Blegen Research Fellow in Classics. The Blegen scholar spends his or her year pursuing research and lecturing on his or her scholarly concerns in Classical antiquity. Each Blegen lecture course is a unique offering that allows students to study aspects of the Classical world that are not taught by standing members of the department.
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Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential, liberal arts college founded in 1861.