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  • Writer's pictureSkye Shirley

Women's Latin Week

Updated: May 21, 2021

Project Nota, an initiative at Lupercal focused on making women's Latin more accessible, is running a Women's Latin Week right now, so it felt like the right time to refresh my old blog and start sharing Latin by women with you all!

Many of you know that my PhD research project now focuses on women Latin writers of the 17th century, but that's kind of a clunky way of talking about the reality of my life, which is spent binge-reading incredible Latin poetry over innumerable coffees, smiling with excitement under my face mask while I pore through archives, and handing over far too much of my student loan money to used bookstores. In short, although I face frustrations and challenges just like everybody else, I wake up every day absolutely certain of one thing: that I love what I do, and that this work is so, so worthy of love. There are few things more valuable to me than sharing that passion with others and watching it catch like a spark.

Whenever I share a Latin resource, I want to tie it to a bigger issue in the human condition, an issue that perhaps especially has resonance for marginalized groups. Issues of underrepresentation, of being the brunt of jokes, of tokenization and erasure. Also I'll be sharing these Latinist women's remedies for this, ones that have been used for millennia to rectify these exclusions. Above all, I aim for this to be a curriculum resource but also a life resource— one that gets us (and our students) to think more deeply about the issues that arise in our own lives via encountering Latin by women.

The blog posts here may not be polished— I do, after all, tend to stretch myself thin at times— but they will be a behind-the-scenes look at what feminist scholar Gerda Lerner in the 1960s called "compensatory history." This kind of history is undertaken to right a wrong, while knowing that that wrong will outlive me. I don't think the longevity of that wrong— the enduring exclusion of "merely the private lives of one-half of humanity" is an excuse for inaction (Kizer). Rather, let's add our own voices to the long history of fighting to balance the canon so that everyone's Latin gets an equal shot at inclusion in curricula.

Carolyn Kizer, "Pro Femina," in No More Masks, ed. Ellen Bass and Florence Howe (Garden City: Doubleday, 1973), p. 175.

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