Friday, May 18, 2012, 6:30 PM
Location: Benjamin T. Rome Auditorium of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, 1619 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC
Steve Vinson of Indiana University will give a talk entitled, “Recycling Cleopatra: Ancient-Egyptian femmes fatales in Victorian popular novels, short stories and poetry”
After Francois Champollion deciphered the Egyptian hieroglyphic script in 1822, there was an explosion of popular literature on ancient-Egyptian themes in Victorian and post-Victorian Europe and America. Many of these literary works featured female characters who were as alluring as they were deadly – sometimes bearing the name of “Cleopatra,” but always with their roots in a legendary caricature of Cleopatra as “femme fatale” that went back to the days of the Romans. The most important of these characters was named “Tabubue:” a female from an actual ancient Egyptian ghost story from the Ptolemaic period, whose character was recycled again and again in late-Nineteenth and early-to-mid Twentieth-Century novels, short-stories and poems, by authors as diverse as the British adventure-author H. Rider Haggard and the German Nobel-Prize-Winner Thomas Mann.
Steve Vinson is an associate professor of Egyptology at Indiana University in Bloomington. His primary interests are in ancient Egyptian literature, particularly the Demotic literature of the Ptolemaic and Roman periods, and he is currently working on a book on the ancient Egyptian ghost story, the “First Tale of Setne Khaemwas.” He has also worked with Eugene Cruz-Uribe and Jacquelin Jay on recording Demotic graffiti from the Valley of the Kings. Vinson has also worked extensively on ancient Egyptian transportation and trade, and is the author of “The Nile Boatman at Work” and the Shire Egyptology volume “Egyptian Boats and Ships.”