Lisabeth During and Ross Poole on "Rape and the Republic" - Department of Social Science and Cultural Studies Speaker Series, March 19th

2:50 PM

Department of  
Social Science and Cultural Studies
Speakers Series
Lisabeth During
Associate Professor of Philosophy, Pratt Institute
Ross Poole
Professor of Political Science, New School for Social Research
Rape and the Republic: 
Lucretia, Livy, Augustine, Machiavelli

March 19th, 5pm
Dekalb Hall
Seminar Room 208
Pratt Institute
Brooklyn, N. Y.

Please join us for the next installment of the Social Science & Cultural Studies Speaker Series for a talk by our own Lisabeth During and the New School's Ross Poole on "Rape and the Republic: Lucretia, Livy, Augustine, Machiavelli" at 5pm on March 19th.

The story of Lucretia is well known. She was the virtuous wife of a Roman nobleman who committed suicide after being raped by Sextus Tarquinius, the son of the king. Her body was displayed in the forum and the enraged citizens, led by Junius Brutus, expelled the Tarquins and established the Roman Republic. Slightly less well known is the story of Virginia. Fifty or so years after the rape of Lucretia, Claudius Appius, a patrician with tyrannical ambitions, attempted to enslave the daughter of a respected plebeian in order to have his way with her. When all seemed lost, her father seized a butcher’s knife and killed her -- to ‘make her free,’ as Machiavelli had it. After Virginia’s body was displayed in the forum, the citizens and the army forced Claudius Appius into exile, and the republican order was restored.

What do these stories tell us? What is it about rape that demands a political response? Why is republican rule established – and then re-established – through the death and display of a woman? Do these stories tell us something, not merely about republican forms of political order, but about the nature of sovereignty as such? In addressing these questions, we will consider, not merely the canonical account of Livy, but also the interpretations of later writers, especially St. Augustine, Machiavelli, and Lessing.

We will also consider, though more briefly, whether these ancient stories have anything to say to contemporary liberals anxious to keep the state out of their bedrooms, or to fathers ready to murder daughters in the name of honor.

Lisabeth During is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Pratt Instittue. She studied theology at Cambridge University, taught for many years in the Philosophy Department at the University of New South Wales, and now works at Pratt Institute of Art and Design in Brooklyn. She has published on Hegel, Artaud, George Eliot, Surrealism and André Bazin. Most recently, she co-edited with Lisa Trahair a special issue of Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities on Belief in Cinema which revisits themes from André Bazin (17.4, December 2012). Her “The Book of Chastity: Studies in an Ascetic Ideal” will be on the shelves soon.

 Ross Poole is the author of Morality and Modernity (Routledge, 1991), Nation and Identity (Routledge, 1991) and many articles and book chapters. Recent work includes 'Two Ghosts and an Angel,' Constellations 16(1) (2009) and 'Misremembering the Holocaust: Universal Symbol, Nationalist Icon, or Moral Kitsch?' in Memory and the Future, ed. Amy Sodaro et al. (Macmillan Palgrave, 2011). He teaches philosophy and politics at the New School for Social Research.

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