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Title: The reception of Thucydides in contemporary America
Author: Sawyer, Elizabeth
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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References to Thucydides in American public debate, especially in discussion of foreign policy matters, have become the focus of increased attention from classicists in recent years. Scholars have noted the importance of Thucydides, to the near exclusion of other classical authors, in the academic discipline of International Relations theory, and also the status he is accorded in the American War Colleges, where the highest-ranking military leaders are trained. This thesis considers not only these trends but also a previously unexamined sphere, that of political speech in the US Congress. It describes what role Thucydides plays in each of these spheres of discourse and how Thucydides, as opposed to any other writer (classical or non- classical), came to fulfil that role. What emerges as a clear, unifying thread between these disparate receptions is the influence of practices within American higher education over the twentieth century, which have helped to shape how educated but non-specialist readers access and interpret classical works. The 'Great Books' pedagogical model and popular movement, in which well-known works of Western literature are read via English translations without extensive reference to their historical background, has had the greatest impact on this process. Comparison with England, a country which does not have an equivalent to the Great Books model in its educational tradition, reveals surprising absences and presences of Thucydides in those spheres that correspond to the American ones under scrutiny. The thesis concludes by suggesting how analysis of these trends can contribute to our theoretical understanding of classical receptions, and proposes an evolutionary metaphor for reception which takes into account both the wider context and the material resources through which the classical world is interpreted today.
Supervisor: Pelling, Chris Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available