• Discussion

    Brilliant Achilles, shining Achilles – Greek myths, women’s voices, and colonial violence

    In “The Public Voice of Women”, the classicist Mary Beard writes about a text by Aristophanes: “Part of the joke was that women couldn’t speak properly in public – or rather, they couldn’t adapt their private speech […] to the lofty idiom of male politics”. Beard examines in her text how (Western) ideas about public speech and debate are infused with ideas (“conventions and rules”) developed in ancient Greece and Rome. Analyzing exemplary texts, she argues that public speaking and oratory was not only a practice women were barred from but even more so “exclusive practices and skills that defined masculinity as a gender”. When I read through her analysis,…

  • Discussion

    The Great White Feminist Novel

    On November 28th, Margaret Atwood wrote a tweet which excited many. Thirty years after the publications of her seminal dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale (and during its successful run as a TV series), Atwood announced that she was writing a sequel: The Testaments will be published in September this year. It seems to be a good time for grand feminist novels which do not hide their feminist themes but make them front and centre.  In 2017, Naomi Alderman won the Women’s Prize for Fiction with her dystopian novel The Power in which teenage girls gain physical power and power relations start to shift. Last year, Meg Wolitzer published The Female Persuasion, a 450-pages long examination of different…

  • Discussion

    Is it really a difficult read?

    When Anna Burns’ novel Milkman won the Man Booker Prize last year the tone it would be talked about in the coming months was set at the ceremony. Kwame Anthony Appiah, the head of the jury, called the book “challenging” and went on: “I spend my time reading articles in the Journal of Philosophy so by my standards this is not too hard…[I]t is not a light read [but] I think it is going to last.” Since then I have seen this sentiment echoed in many reviews – often as one of the first things which are said about the novel. The book is referred to as a “tough read”…