Visiting Assistant Professor of Classics Jesse Weiner presented an invited lecture on Feb. 25 as part of Illinois Wesleyan University’s Ides Lecture Series in Greek and Roman Studies. “Every Time I Write A Rhyme, These People Think It’s a Crime: Transgressive Poetics and Self-Representation in Catullus and Eminem” examined Eminem’s song “Criminal” (2000, The Marshall Mathers LP, Track 18) alongside the insult poetry of Catullus, a Roman poet of the first century B.C.
Weiner argued that each artist deploys similar transgressive poetics and constructions of masculinity to call for the separation of art from artist. He said that both Catullus and Eminem present their poetic personae as autobiographically authentic, only to undermine these stances of authenticity. He argued that Catullus and Eminem also construct similar readerly personae, which points towards shared interpretive strategies and limitations in ancient and modern audiences.