Classics-Georges Lecture

Wednesday April 3rd 6:00 pm - 8:30 pm

Location: Uptown Campus


The Department of Classical Studies at Tulane University presents “Does History Have a Mood? Herodotus at the Dawn of Athenian Democracy” by Patrice Rankine (The University of Chicago).


Date ~ Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Time ~ 6:00PM

Location ~ Art 205 – Freeman Auditorium


‘Hope’ for Ceasefire. ‘Confidence’ in the economy. ‘Surprising’ data. Islamophobia (‘fear’) post-9/11. Although emotions would seem to have no place in the recording or study of history, recent headlines reveal how approximate the affections of people are to immediate events. Emotions, moreover, are shared, accounting for collective moods conveyed in expressive life (e.g., art, music), journalism, and literature. Contemporary theorist Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht has argued that attunement with mood can be a powerful mode of literary interpretation. Historians have engaged with Gumbrecht’s studies for what they might convey about specific periods (such as the 18th century), but my aim here is something different, namely to read a historical text from the classical period as a literary artifact to which readers might attune to understand the mood or atmosphere it is expressing. Specifically, I read Herodotus’ preoccupation with democracy and slavery, freedom and forms of government, in terms of an atmosphere or mood. One insight or payoff of this reading is the realization of Athenian democracy not as unique or inevitable but as the byproduct of the emotional environment of the fifth century. Reading for mood helps in understanding the collective or public nature of emotions, how writers convey these feelings, and what this tells us about a people or period.


Tulane University is committed to providing universal access to all our events. Please contact Elizabeth M Reyna (, 504-865-5719) the event organizer for accessibility accommodations. Please note that advance notice is necessary to arrange some accessibility needs.


Sponsored By: School of Liberal Arts, The Department of Classical Studies, School of Liberal Arts, The Department of Classical Studies, School of Liberal Arts, School of Liberal Arts, School of Liberal Arts, The Department of Classical Studies
Open To: Public
Admission: Free
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