Jesse Weiner.

Associate Professor of Classics Jesse Weiner recently co-organized and chaired a three-day seminar on “Radical Medeas” at the Annual Meeting of the American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA) in Montreal. He worked with Zina Giannopoulou of the University of California, Irvine.

The panel examined the ancient myth of Medea (who, Weiner noted, infamously committed filicide) and its reworkings in modernity, focusing on groundbreaking adaptations and contexts, as well as new critical approaches to the myth and its sources.

Weiner also presented “Medea, Motherhood, Race, and Ecocatastrophe in N.K. Jemisin’s The Broken Earth.” The paper focused on a recent Hugo Award-winning science fiction/fantasy trilogy that joins concerns over climate change with, in Jemisin’s words, “allegory for slavery and caste oppression.”

Weiner said he read Jemisin’s protagonist as a Medea figure in a rich tradition of Black Medeas, which reaches back through Toni Morrison’s Beloved and the historical Margaret Garner to roots in ancient Greek and Roman myth and literature.

“My analysis took an intersectional approach that joined critical race studies, feminist thought, and ecocriticism,” he said. He also “suggested that Jemisin’s use of second-person narration challenges readers to self-identify with this Medea figure, subject to severe abuse and oppression, and to imagine themselves capable of the most extreme forms of resistance.”

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