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Rachael Bundy (Exeter): 'Teach sad Philomel a louder note’: intersectional responses to Ovid in the long eighteenth century

Seminar Associated with the Centre for Classical Reception


A Department of Classics and Ancient History seminar
Date28 November 2019
Time15:00 to 16:30
PlaceWashington Singer 219

Ovid's Philomela narrative, as told in the sixth book of his Metamorphoses, was widely engaged with by the female poets of the long eighteenth century: the myth was so popular that half of all new female poets published in the first decade of the eighteenth century included a reference to the myth in their volumes of poetry. These poets typically hailed from positions of social privilege and, as a result, had obtained a greater degree of literacy than was typical for the time, thus giving them access to Ovid's oeuvre - typically in translation, but occasionally in the original Latin. However, by the end of the century, two labouring-class poets had joined this collective of women referencing Philomela in their poetry. Mary Leapor and Anne Yearsley are, therefore, of intrinsic interest as they represent a different model of engagement with the classical tradition; as lower-class women, they are doubly marginalised. My paper shall approach both women’s work through an intersectional lens: I shall explore how, as both women and members of the lower classes, Leapor and Yearsley’s representations of Philomela can be differentiated from the Philomelas imagined by their middle- and upper-class female peers.


Washington Singer 219