Trigger Material Culture of the Greco-Roman World

Author(s): Patricia Kim

Year: 2016


A recent opinion editorial published in the Columbia Spectator by three undergraduates protested the university’s core curriculum as consisting of “triggering and offensive material that marginalizes student identities in the classroom.” The article was written in response to the assignment of Ovid’s “Metamorphoses,” which contains scenes of rape and sexual assault. The art historical and archaeological record of the Greco-Roman world similarly includes visual and material evidence that we would translate as disturbingly misogynistic or violent in today’s context. From Macedonian palatial mosaics and monumental wall paintings that depict scenes of rape, to issues of gendered roles and spaces, the material record either offends or frustratingly limits what scholars may say about the construction of gendered subjectivities in the Greco-Roman world. My contribution addresses different ways that the material record may be considered in approaching a more nuanced understanding of the production of gender and the stakes of “histories and narratives of exclusion and oppression.” I also consider ways to go beyond the pedagogical morass that the Columbia students signal, and explore strategies for teaching ancient “trigger material” in arguing the critical importance of its examination and analysis in the classroom.

Cite this Record

Trigger Material Culture of the Greco-Roman World. Patricia Kim. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403622)