The Roman poet Ovid has fascinated Carole Newlands since she was first introduced to his work as an undergraduate. His defiant attitude and mysterious character caught her attention and has thrilled her ever since.
“Ovid was the literary rebel of the Roman establishment, writing sexy love poetry at a time when the emperor Augustus was trying to run a family values campaign,” Newlands said. “He wrote an epic poem, the ‘Metamorphoses’, which tells the history of the world from creation to Ovid's own time through myth.”
Dr. Newlands, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Distinguished Visiting Professor in classics, is visiting Richmond this year from the University of Colorado-Boulder where she is a professor of comparative literature and medieval Studies. The NEH Distinguished Visiting Professorship was established in 1983 with a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and matching funds raised by the University to bring distinguished visiting professors to teach and host public lectures.
Newlands is currently teaching Ovid and After in the classics department. The course examines his life and the impact that his work has had on past and present generations.
“I think it's fair to say that of all Roman authors, Ovid has been the most influential in the recent century up to today,” she said. “He has inspired poets, dramatists, novelists, and artists.”
Apart from her teaching responsibilities, Newlands will host a conference on “Ovid and Ovidianism,” April 16 to 18 at the Omni Hotel in Richmond. The conference will explore the concept of Ovidianism, with a particular focus on metamorphosis. Scholars from around the world, including classicists, art historians and specialists in European literature, will come together to present their ideas and research about Ovid’s works.
The working definition of the term “Ovidianism” calls attention to how later literature and art employs particular features of the style and method that we associate with Ovid in new and provocative ways.
“The conference will be exploring not only Ovid’s direct influence on literature and art, but also 'Ovidianism,' a certain artistic style and ideology, a different way of perceiving the world as changeable and fluid and full of contradictions,” Newlands said.
Newlands is looking forward to being in a room surrounded by distinguished scholars from varying backgrounds who share her passion for Ovid’s work. The discussion generated by the cross-disciplinary setting will help further the multifaceted and complex definition of “Ovidianism.”
Among Dr. Newlands publications are “Playing with Time: Ovid and the Fasti” and “Statius' Silvae and the Poetics of Power”. She earned her doctorate at the University of California, Berkley.