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This essay attempts to contextualize the current crisis in classics in three ways which can be broadly characterized as autobiographical in orientation. First, I ofer an autobiographical reading of curricular reforms in Princeton, usa, in relation to earlier reforms at my previous place of work, Durham, uk, some twenty years ago. Secondly, I refect on my own research interests in life-writing as an aspect of classical reception. Thirdly, I approach the relationship between classics and autobiography as part of a wider debate on the nature of the classic. I focus, in particular, on T. S. Eliot's lecture 'What is a Classic?', delivered in 1944, and J. M. Coetzee's answering essay 'What is a Classic?', published in 1993. Using the work of Eve Kovosky Sedgwick on paranoid and reparative reading, I propose that the current crisis in classics is not primarily one of institutional requirements but rather one of student recruitment and, therefore, of afective stances towards what we learn, teach, and study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-190
Number of pages16
JournalQuaderni Urbinati di Cultura Classica
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Classics
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


  • Autobiography
  • Classics
  • J. M. Coetzee
  • João Guimarães Rosa
  • Reparative Reading
  • T. S. Eliot


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