Dr Mathura Umachandran

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I studied Literae Humaniores at Wadham College, Oxford where the seed of an interest in classical reception was planted as a broad interest in the mobilization of antiquity in contemporary Anglophone poetry. I pursued this interest with a Masters in the Reception of the Ancient World at University College London where I branched out into reception in the German literary and intellectual tradition with a thesis on Christa Wolf’s Cassandra. At Princeton, I completed further training in Classics as it is more traditionally conceived and wrote my doctoral thesis ‘Antiquity in Dark Times: Classical Reception in the thought of Theodor Adorno and Erich Auerbach’. As of September 2018, I return to Oxford as a postdoctoral researcher on the Anachronism and Antiquity project.

My research to date has focussed on German-Jewish thinkers who are self-reflexively critical of philhellenism as an integral part of the methods and operations of modern historical analysis, philosophical inquiry, and literary criticism in the German intellectual tradition. I hope to develop my research into the first generation of the Frankfurt School, in the thought of figures such as Max Horkheimer and Herbert Marcuse, by examining how the critique of Antike was mobilised in the foundational moments in the history of Critical Theory. Besides this central interest, I have strong commitments to social and racial justice in the academy, which I pursue through teaching, (for example, in prisons in New Jersey), writing (for example, about race and the academy in public facing venues) and organising (for example, in my capacity as Ethnic Minorities liaison officer for the Women’s Classical Committee UK).

Classical Reception, Critical Theory, History of Ideas, Homer, Hellenism, Modernity


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