Her article provides a close reading of Ta-Nehisi Coates's famed epistolary work Between the World and Me placed in the context of the classical canon, including Sophocles’ Antigone and Plato’s Apology.
Between the World and Me won the National Book Award in 2015, and was chosen this academic year at Sewanee as the common book for students and faculty to read.
Through an examination of such tropes as "featured characters whose conviction in divine justice leads them to defiance", McCarter demonstrates how "Coates’s book has the potential to pose important, timely questions to students of Classics" in an effort to connect these texts across time and tackle an unfortunate yet persistent divide between the canon of antiquity and present day:
But if Coates can endure an examination that exposes to him his own human fallibility, so can his son, and so, perhaps, can we all...
Coates helps us resist hagiographic idealization of the ancients even as he assumes much that is admirable in them. Classicists are thereby invited to apply the same questioning eye to the world we study as Coates brings to the world today.
The full text of Prof. McCarter's article can be found here.
Stephanie McCarter is Associate Professor of Classical Languages at Sewanee: The University of the South. She is the author of Horace between Freedom and Slavery: The First Book of Epistles (University of Wisconsin Press, 2015) and has an article forthcoming in Classical Philology on humor in Vergil’s Georgics.