Heather James received her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature in 1991 from the University of California at Berkeley. Her current research project, Taking Liberties: Ovid in Renaissance Poetry and Political Thought,argues that the liberties Ovid famously took with rhetorical and moral proprieties, often upending the model of Augustan decorum, have a historically rich relation to the theory of political liberty in republican discourse. Although the bold and open speech of republican historians and senators seemed to become a thing of the past in imperial Rome, it took up residence in the audacious and licentious poetry of Ovid. The recovery of his political stature helps flesh out the story, largely confined to Roman historians and Lucan, of how the discourse of classical republicanism takes shape in the early modern world. Ovid charts a path from the rise of lyric eroticism and poetic innovation in the 16th-century to the rise of libertinism and political theory in the 17th-century.
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