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Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures

Nostos: War, the Odyssey, and Narratives of Return

13th Annual Comparative Literature Conference at USC

March 24-27, 2011
University of South Carolina, Columbia

Panel Logistics


Accommodations: The conference hotel is the Inn at USC ( To receive the conference rate of $116/night, which includes breakfast, parking, and wi-fi, mention the conference in your reservation request and reserve your room by March 9, 2011. Please call the hotel directly to make your reservation: 1-866-455-4753. International participants may also e-mail their reservation requests to:

Any questions? Please contact Dr. Jill Frank,

Call For Papers

Final Program (click for PDF)

All events take place at the Inn at USC on Thursday, Friday and Sunday and at McMaster on Saturday.

The reading on Thursday is at the Richland County Public Library and the performance on Friday is at the Longstreet Theatre.

Thursday, March 24th
1:45 Opening Remarks
2-3:15 Plenary
Jonathan Shay, 2009 Omar Bradley Chair of Strategic Leadership, US Army War College, "Moral Injury"
4:00 - 6:00 Ancient Greeks/Modern Lives, Aquila Theatre, Richland County Public Library
6:30 Reception, Inn at USC
Friday, March 25th
8:30 - 10:15 Panels
A. Location
Moderator and Respondent: Jake Blevins, McNeese State University,

N. Popov-Reynolds, University of West Georgia, “Framing the Lie of the Nostos: From the Last Return to the First,”

K. Milne, Cornell University. “The Redundancy of Nostos in Republican Rome,”

L. Flack, Marquette University, “What These Ithacas Mean”: Modernist Revisions of the Homeric Nostos.
B. Location
Moderator and Respondent: Amy Lehman, University of South Carolina,

L. Kozak/ T. Jundt, McGill University, “Mad Men of Many Ways”,

B. W. Boyd, Bowdoin College, “Odysseus’ Return on Madison Avenue”

R. Irons, University of South Carolina, “Reading Resonance: Recognition and Homecoming in Odyssey 23.231-40”
10:15 - 10:30 Coffee Break
10:30 - 11:45 Plenary
Carol Dougherty, Wellesley College, “Homecomings and Housekeepings: Re-Reading the Odyssey Through Contemporary Fiction”
11:45 - 1:15 Lunch break
1:15 - 3:00 Panels
A. Location
Moderator and Respondent: Alexander Beecroft, University of South Carolina,

M. Donougho, University of South Carolina, “Adorno on Exile and the Myth of Homecoming,”

E. Spentzou, University of London, “The Past is our Foreign Country: Homeric Nostoi in Post-WWII Greece,”

T. Squires, Kinki University Japan, “Return as Restoration: Yuriwaka Daijin as the Japanese Odysseus,”
B. Location
Moderator and Respondent: Meili Steele, University of South Carolina,

P. Ferran, Rochester Institute of Technology, “Heimkehr: Brecht’s Drums in the Night,”

H. Hintze, Villanova University, “Odysseus and the Nostos in Plato’s Myth of Er,”

W. Altman, E.C. Glass High School, Lynchburg, Virginia: “Coming Home to the Iliad,”
C. Location
Moderator and Respondent: Deborah Lyons, Miami University,

Z. Giannopoulou, University of California, Irvine, “Dislocating Home in Zachary Mason’s The Lost Books of the Odyssey,”

J. Burgess, University of Toronto, “On not Returning: Cold Mountain, Bartram’s Travels, and the Odyssey,”

A. Purves, University of California, Los Angeles, “Sleeping Outside: Homer’s Odyssey and W.G. Sebald’s The Emigrants,”
3:00 - 3:05 Break
3:05 - 4:20 Plenary
Sheila Murnaghan, University of Pennsylvania, “Nostos without Departure: The Adventure of Staying Home”
4:20 - 4:45 Coffee Break
4:45 - 6:30 Panels
A. Location
Moderator and Respondent: Heike Sefrin-Weis, University of South Carolina
W. Whelan-Stewart, McNeese State University, “Spatial Translations: Gwendolyn Brooks and Margaret Atwood’s Penelope in the New World,”

S. Nelson, Boston University, “You Can Never Go Home Again: War in the Odyssey and Ulysses,”

Victoria Reuter, Oxford University, “Feminist Revisions of the Penelope Myth: A Snapshot,”
B. Location
Moderator and Respondent: Hunter Gardner, University of South Carolina,

M. Myers, North Carolina State University, “Elegaic Returns: Odyssean Themes in Tibullus and Propertius,”

W. Hutton, College of William & Mary, “Nostos and Nostalgia in the Second Sophistic,”

M. Goyette, City University of New York, “Homer’s Odyssey and Apuleius’ Metamorphoses as Nostoi of Self and Identity,”
C. Location
Moderator and Respondent: Rachel Templer, Goucher College,

M. Dodd, University of South Carolina, “The Homecoming of the Hidden King: The Genre of Wisdom in the Odyssey,”

D. Kasimis, Yale University, “Euripides’ Ion and the Political Lessons of a Secret Homecoming,”

T. Perry, Dartmouth College, “Exile and Nostos in Odyssey 13,”
7:00 - 8:00 Odysseys, Amy Boyce Holtcamp, Longstreet Theatre
Saturday, March 26th
8:30 - 10:15 Panels
A. Location
Moderator and Respondent:Peter Scotto, Mount Holyoke College,
J. Kalb, University of South Carolina, “Ulitskaya’s Homer,”

F. Rosset, Wheaton College, “Gumilev’s Odyssey,”

Z. Torlone, Miami University of Ohio, “Burning the Ticket: Joseph Brodsky’s “Odyssey,””

R. D. Le Blanc, University of New Hampshire, “A Georgian Odyssey,”
B. Location
Moderator and Respondent: Richard Evans, Strayer University
B. Sammons, Queens College, City University of New York, “Split Traditions: Crime and Community in Accounts of the Achaean Departure(s) from Troy,”

V. Tomasso, Ripon College, “Sins of the Fathers: The Telegony as a Critical Reading of the Odyssey,”

D. Wood, McNeese State University, “Modernist Nostos,”
C. Location
Moderator and Respondent: Richard F. Buxton, College of Charleston,
J. McConnell, Northwestern University, “’You Had to Wade this Deep in Blood?’: The Violence and the Madness of Odysseus’ Return in Derek Walcott's The Odyssey: A Stage Version,”

A. Saxonhouse, University of Michigan, “The Warrior Heads Home in Sophocles’ Ajax,”

B. Freydberg, Duquesne University, “Philocleon’s Interrupted Odyssean Homecoming: A View from Aristophanes’ Comedy,”
10:15 - 10:30 Coffee Break
10:30 - 11:45 Plenary
James Tatum, Dartmouth College, “The Veteran and Mediations of War”
11:45 - 1:15 Lunch Break
1:15 - 3:00 Panels
A. Location
Moderator and Respondent: Greg Forter, University of South Carolina,

C. Schultze, University of Durham, “Absent Fathers: Penelope as Parent in the Novels of Charlotte Yonge,”

J. Guo, University of South Carolina, “A Woman Soldier Comes Home from the War,”

C. Pache, Trinity University, “Nobody Comes Home: Unweaving Nostos in the 21st Century,”
B. Location
Moderator and Respondent: Kristen Gentile, College of Charleston,

J. Esposito, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, “Athena and Zeus Reconciled: Nostos as Alignment of Justice and Cunning Intelligence in the Odyssey,” 

C. Stocking, University of South Carolina, “Recognizing Hermes: Transversal Genealogies and Odysseus’ Return,”

M. Foster, Indiana University, “Traveling from Home to Homer: The Seer in Pindar Olympian 6,”
C. Location
Moderator and Respondent: Erik Doxtader, University of South Carolina,

P. Meineck, New York University, “Combat Trauma and the Tragic Stage: “Restoration” by Cultural Catharsis,”

S. Stow, College of William and Mary, “Mourning and the Politics of Return: Homecoming as Reconstitution,”

A. Eubanks, Johnson C. Smith University, “The New Europe at the Crossroads: Odysseus comes Home (Again),”
3:00 - 3:15 Break
3:15 - 4:30 Documentary:
“Always Coming Home: South Carolina Women Veterans Speak,” Cathy Brookshire, University of South Carolina

Discussants: Jonathan Shay, 2009 Omar Bradley Chair of Strategic Leadership, US Army War College, Roberta Stewart, Dartmouth, Roberta.L.Stewart@Dartmouth.EDU

4:30 - 4:45 Coffee Break
4:45 - 6:30 Panels
A. Location
Moderator and Respondent: Allen Miller, University of South Carolina,

E. Manwell, Kalamazoo College, “Language, Nostalgia and Primo Levi’s Journey Home,”

S.D. Nell, Loyola University, Maryland, “You Can’t Go Home Again: Gender, Performativity and the Rococo Critique of Heroism in Gresset’s Ver-Vert,”
B. Location
Moderator and Respondent: Jill Frank, University of South Carolina,
O.B. Mlambo, University of Zimbabwe, “Hopes, Promises, and Lies: The Returning War Hero in Virgil’s Aeneid and Zimbabwe Compared,” 

A. Loney, Duke University, “Home is Everything: Spielberg’s Munich as an Ambivalent Reading of the Odyssey,” 

J. Ready, Indiana University, “Odysseus and the Suitors’ Relatives,”
7:30 Banquet
Sunday, March 27th
8:30 - 10:15 Panels
A. Location
Moderator and Respondent: Brendan Boyle, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill,
W. Race, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, “Phaeacian Therapy,”

R. Evans, Strayer University, “Setting Matters Right: The Punishment of Polyphemus as a Foreshadowing of Vengeance on the Suitors,”

S. James, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill: “Nostos in the War at Home: Between Fighting and Family in the Iliad,”
B. Location
Moderator and Respondent: Mark Beck, University of South Carolina,

D. Beck, University of Texas, Austin, “Speech Presentation in Odysseus’ Nostos: Od. 9- 12,”

B.M. Rogers, Gettysburg College, “The Sound of Nostos in the Odyssey and Oresteia,”

K. Hara, University of South Carolina, “Homecomings in Puccini’s Madame Butterfly,”
10:15 - 10:30 Break
10:30 - 11:45 Plenary:
René Nünlist, University of Cologne, “How Do You Come Home after Twenty Years?”
11:45 - 12:00 Conclusion

Call for Papers

And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not deceived you. Wise as you have become, with so much experience, you must already have understood what Ithacas mean. (Cavafy, "Ithaca")

  • Carol Dougherty, Classics and Comparative Literature, Wellesley
  • Sheila Murnaghan, Classical Studies, University of Pennsylvania
  • René Nünlist, Classics, University of Cologne
  • Jonathan Shay, Psychiatry Department of Veterans Affairs, Naval War College
  • James Tatum, Classics, Dartmouth

A soldier comes home from war. What does he find? How does he adapt? He's been away a long time. He's had a long journey filled with wonderful and traumatic experiences. Now, there are strange people in his house doing strange things. What should he do?

For almost three thousand years in the west, the archetype of this narrative has been Homer's Odyssey. The poem has fostered many successors from the Nostoi to the Aeneid, to Ulysses, March, and O Brother, Where Art Thou. The narrative remains as present to our society as it was in archaic society. Soldiers today, both men and women, are still coming home, making that fraught passage. And in the largest sense, we too, both soldiers and civilians, are always coming home, always returning to where we've never really been before to confront the different in ourselves and others.

We invite a broad range of interdisciplinary papers to explore historically, philosophically, politically, and psychologically topics including but not limited to the following. What is the significance of the Odyssey today? What did it mean in archaic Greece? What does the tradition surrounding it say about the changing meaning of the concepts and practices of war, of the journey, of return, and of home? Do we ever really come home? How does homecoming have the potential to both harm and heal? What is the place of the unheimlich in the all too familiar?

Abstracts for twenty minute papers should be sent to by October 1, 2010. Abstracts should be no more than 250 words long. Panel proposals of 750 words are due by the same date. Panels should include three papers and a respondent.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.