Liam Questions Please

For my thesis topic I plan to be looking at themes of foreignness and cosmopolitanism in different versions/iterations of the story of Medea. I hope to begin in the Bronze Age and look at how the mythology around Jason and the Argonauts can help us better understand ideas of difference for the Aegean peoples. The next step would be to trace those themes through epic literature, and understand the transitions and changes undergone for the narrative to arrive with Euripides in 5th century Athens. A version of this thesis might also look at Roman theatrical adaptations, or include some alternative look into Roman sentiments regarding similar themes, but that may be beyond the scope of this Thesis.

With a clearer understanding of an ancient view of Medea, I will then be focusing a lot of my thesis using Anti-Racist and Decolonial Theory to look at a modern adaptation of the play. I had hoped to use James Ijames’ The One Where the Children Live (currently in draft version with the name likely to be changed), but its primary focus may not be on the themes I hope to interrogate, in which case I will turn to other versions, potentially Paolo Pasolini’s Medea with a postmodern perspective, or Dea Loher’s Manhattan Medea, in which the characters of Jason and Medea arrive in Manhattan as immigrants.

Some of the questions I’m considering are:

  1. What can theater and performance of mythology tell us about different archaic views of international identity and cross-cultural exchange?
  2. How can reception, specifically performance reception, help us interrogate our modern understandings of and attitudes towards difference and “exchange” of foreign ideas in the United States?
  3. How can mythology and reception teach us about non-exploitative cultural sharing in the modern world?
  4. What does it mean to call a place home, and how are homes built/found/stolen in a postcolonial world? (could include bonus discussion around the Indo-European origins of the word home, which I don’t totally remember but has something to do with “the place where you lay your head”. Don’t want to get too into philology, but it can honestly be a pretty good way to set up a conversation around a larger topic).
  5. How is “high art” different from “low art”, and what do these things do separately for forming shared identities?
  6. How can a cosmopolitan world exist where difference is encouraged for the explicit purpose of being shared?
  7. Conversely, how does sharing difference shape the attitudes and identities across the world?
  8. Is cosmopolitanism relegated to some conformity wherein there is an attempt at unity that further alienates difference?
  9. How does the mythology of the United States shape our modern attitudes surrounding cultural exchange and cosmopolitanism today?

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