Sharon L. James
Sharon L. James, Associate Professor of Classics
Sharon L. James received her doctorate in Comparative Literature from the University of California, Berkeley, with a dissertation on parents and children in Homer, Vergil, and Dante.
Her areas of scholarly specialization are Latin poetry; women and gender in antiquity, particularly women in Rome; New Comedy; and Italian epic. Further areas of interest include new approaches to classics, including feminism and literary theory; gender in Greek tragedy; family and social organization in Homer; the Renaissance Italian New Comedy of Machiavelli and Ariosto.
In summer 2012, Professor James co-directed, with Professor Tim Moore (Washington University in St. Louis; UNC Classics Ph.D., 1986), an NEH Summer Institute entitled "Roman Comedy in Performance." This Institute experimented with offering different versions of selected scenes from Roman comedy (Pseudolus, Bacchides, Casina, Eunuchus, Mercator, Persa, Truculentus). Participants (faculty and graduate students in Classics, Theater, Religious Studies, and History) produced twenty performed scenes from Roman Comedy, six of them in Latin.
After a year on-line, the videos have been viewed more than 8,000 times, in 92 countries.
The performances can be seen here:
More information about the Institute can be found at these two websites:
http://romancomedyinperformance.blogspot.com/ (DVD sets of the performances can be purchased here).
Professor James's teaching interests range from Latin of all kinds and all levels to comparative literature courses. On the undergraduate level, she offers Latin courses on Vergil, Latin lyric, Roman elegy, Roman Comedy, first-year seminars, and lecture courses on women in ancient Greece and women in ancient Rome. Her regular graduate courses include Ovid and Literary Theory, Roman Comedy, Roman Elegy, the Augustan Survey, and an intensive interdisciplinary graduate course, "Approaches to Women in Antiquity," team-taught with Professor Sheila Dillon (Department of Art History, Duke University). She is scheduled to teach a graduate course on Menander in Spring 2014. In June 2012, she was the convener of a Faculty Resource Network seminar at New York University. In 2013, she was honored with a University teaching award, the William C. Friday/Class of 1986 Award for Excellence in Teaching.
Her book, Learned Girls and Male Persuasion: Gender and Reading in Roman Love Elegy (University of California Press, 2003), examines the arguments of Roman elegy from the perspective of its preferred love object, the docta puella.
She has published articles on Vergil, Ovid, Roman comedy, and elegy, and she edited volume 25.1 of Helios, on "Constructions of Gender and Genre in Roman Comedy and Elegy." "Feminist Pedagogy and Teaching Latin Literature" (Cloelia 38; 2008) was awarded a prize from the Women's Classical Caucus, for Special Contribution to Feminist Pedagogy. Recent articles include "Trafficking Pasicompsa: A Courtesan’s Travels and Travails in Plautus' Mercator" (NECJ 37, 2010) and "Ipsa Dixerat: Women's Words in Roman Love Elegy" (Phoenix 64, 2010; published in 2011). In 2012, she published "Re-Reading Propertius' Arethusa" (Mnemosyne 65) and two articles for Blackwell's Companion to Elegy ("Elegy and Comedy"; "Teaching Rape in Elegy"). Her article on gender and sexuality in Terence's comedies appeared in 2013, in the Blackwell Companion to Terence. Further articles are forthcoming in various locations—Teaching Uncomfortable Subjects in the Classics Classroom, co-edited by Nancy Rabinowitz and Fiona McHardy; Menander in Contexts, edited by Alan Sommerstein (to appear in December 2013).
Works in progress (aside from her current book) include an intertextual analysis of Terence's Eunuch and Ovid's Ars amatoria Book 1 and a study of the vision of Tartarus in Tibullus 1.3.
With Professor Sheila Dillon of Duke University, she co-edited Blackwell's Companion to Women in the Ancient World (January 2012), in which she published three case studies and an article co-authored with Madeleleine Henry. The Blackwell Companion was named a Choice 2013 Outstanding Academic Title of 2012, and received a 2013 PROSE (Association of American Publishers) Honorable Mention as a Single Volume Reference in the Humanities & Social Sciences.
With Professors Dorota Dutsch and David Konstan, she is co-editing a volume entitled Women in Republican Roman Drama.
Professor James's current book project, a large-scale study entitled Women in Greek and Roman New Comedy, should be completed within the next year. Future research projects include studies of the captive female and the mythic hero's fertility in Homer and Vergil, an undergraduate commentary on Ovid's Ars amatoria, and a long-postponed study of the Anglo-American reception, in the 19th and 20th centuries, of Euripides' Alcestis. At some point she will revise for publication a collection of eight Roman comedies she has translated for teaching.
She taught at Hamilton College, Bryn Mawr College, and the University of California, Santa Cruz before coming to UNC Chapel Hill in 1999.
Recent dissertations directed:
Serena Witzke. "The Influence of Greek and Roman New Comedy on Oscar Wilde’s Society Plays." In progress.
Erika Zimmermann Damer. "The Female Body in Latin Love Poetry." 2010. (Now Assistant Professor of Classics, University of Richmond.)
Hunter Gardner. "The Waiting Game: Gender and Time in Latin Love Elegy. 2005. (Now Associate Professor of Classics, University of South Carolina; revised version published in 2013 by Oxford University Press, UK: Unveiling Aurora: Gender and Time in Latin Love Elegy.
Recent M.A. Theses directed:
Jessica Wise, UNC Chapel Hill. 2012. “Female Speech in Propertius.”
Katherine R. DeBoer, UNC Chapel Hill. “Concubitus, Verbera, Catena: Slavery, Violence, and Vulnerability in Ovid’s Amores.” 2010.
Patrick Dombrowski, UNC Chapel Hill. “Judicial Rhetoric in the Prologues of Terence.” 2010.
Ted Gellar, UNC Chapel Hill. “Sacrifice in New Comedy.” 2008.
Recent Senior Honors Theses directed:
Caitlin Hines, UNC Chapel Hill. “Puella, Meretrix, Matrona? The Confusion of the Social Classes of Women in Ovid’s Love Poetry.” 2013.
Rachel Mazzara, UNC Chapel Hill. “Speech Registers and Class Awareness in Terence’s meretrices.” 2013.
Hannah Rich, UNC Chapel Hill. “Eros and Violence in the Elegies of Tibullus.” 2011.
Thomas Hopper, UNC Chapel Hill. “Colonialism and the ‘Other’ in Homer, George Sandys, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge.” 2009.