Free Event
Please join us next Wednesday, March 27 for a lecture by Bonnie Honig (Nancy Duke Lewis Professor, Brown University), entitled “Fatality and Forgiveness in Euripides’ Hippolytus as Noir” in TCC 227, 3-4:30pm. reception to follow in PED 130.


Abstract: This lecture revisits JL Austin’s midcentury philosophy of language to consider his idea of “performativity” or “performative utterance” in connection with fatality and forgiveness, central features of Euripides’ Hippolytus, which Austin quotes, in Greek, early in How to Do Things with Words (1955/62). This lecture develops a new reading of the ancient play by reading the Hippolytus as noir: film noir was in its heyday at the time of Austin’s writing and may have influenced classicist Bernard Knox’s influential reading of the play in that same decade (1952). Reading Euripides’ tragedy alongside the 1945 noir film, Leave Her to Heaven (dir. John Stahl),  a reception of the Hippolytus, the lecture argues for Phaedra’s fatality as a trait of the sinthomosexual (Lee Edelman) rather than the femme fatale (Mary Ann Doane), and (contra Knox) shows that the forgiveness that passes between Hippolytus and Theseus is less noble than transactional. Austin’s ordinary language philosophy of performativity is reconsidered and repurposed in conversation with democratic theory, feminist theory, queer theory, black studies, and film noir. 

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