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16th Annual Pallas Lecture: Philhellenism and the Invention of American History

What does the landing of the Mayflower in Plymouth have to do with the Battle of Marathon? When the Greek revolutionaries declared independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1821, to which American citizen did they first send their proclamation? How…

16th Annual Pallas Lecture: Philhellenism and the Invention of American History

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What does the landing of the Mayflower in Plymouth have to do with the Battle of Marathon? When the Greek revolutionaries declared independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1821, to which American citizen did they first send their proclamation? How did the Greek War of Independence shape American identity on the eve of the United States’ 50th anniversary celebration in 1826? This presentation will explore intersections between philhellenism and nationalism, European and American identity, and ancient and modern Greece in early republican America. It will argue that the era’s patriot-orators drew heavily on Greece, both ancient and modern,as they drafted new–and enduring–blueprints of U.S. patriotism.

Johanna Hanink holds a BA in Classics from the University of Michigan, an MA in Latin from the University of California, Berkeley, and an MPhil and PhD in Classics from the University of Cambridge (Queens’ College). She works primarily on theater and performance, literary biography, the cultural life and afterlife of classical Athens, and the historical notion of an ancient “Greek miracle.”

The Classical Debt: Greek Antiquity in an Era of Austerity (Harvard University Press 2017) is her latest book; it explores how Western fantasies of classical antiquity have created a particularly fraught relationship between the European West and the country of Greece, especially in the context of Greece’s recent “tale of two crises.” She is also author of Lycurgan Athens and the Making of Classical Tragedy (Cambridge University Press 2014) and co-editor, with Richard Fletcher, of the volume Creative Lives in Classical Antiquity: Poets, Artists, and Biography (Cambridge University Press 2016).

She is active in Brown’s Program in Modern Greek Studies and is on the board of the Modern Greek Studies Association. She is also on the editorial boards of The Journal of Modern Greek Studies and Eidolon.

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