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The Lives of ObjectsMaterial Culture, Experience, and the Real in the History of Early Christianity$
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Maia Kotrosits

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226707440

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226707617.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 28 September 2021

Darkening the Discipline

Darkening the Discipline

Fantasies of Efficacy and the Art of Redescription

(p.145) 7 Darkening the Discipline
The Lives of Objects

Maia Kotrosits

University of Chicago Press

This final chapter treats the emergence of race as an object of study for the ancient world as a needle’s eye for considering the political fantasies of academic work more generally. I bring Robyn Wiegman’s work in Object Lessons to another story about fantasy and material attachments in the study of the ancient world: the recent controversy surrounding classicist Sarah Bond’s public essay, “Why We Need to Start Seeing the Classical World in Color.” Her article traces the racist history of investments in white marble antiquities, and suggests, “we have the power to return color to the ancient world….” Who is this disciplinary “we,” this chapter asks? And what imaginations about scholars and scholarly agency, not to mention the discipline(s) of ancient studies, does this exhortation buttress? Drawing from Joan Wallach Scott’s work on fantasy figures in feminist history, this chapter critically examines a different figure that haunts and inspires so much of contemporary academic life: that of the “public intellectual.” The chapter closes with a reflection on how these fantasies reflect disciplinary commitments, commitments that, in combination with fantasies of efficacy and political power, might actually hinder the real political possibilities of the classroom.

Keywords:   polychromy, ancient statuary, race, public intellectual, pedagogy, Eve Sedgwick, fantasy, whiteness studies, Robyn Wiegman, academic disciplines

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