Beckman Fellow 2021-22

Clara Bosak-Schroeder


Bosak Schroeder image
Hive, installation by Nancy Davidson and Lakshmi Ramgopal, Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois, 2019. Photo by Della Perrone.

Seven Wonders: Remaking the Past

The field of classical studies is at an impasse, confronting white supremacist appropriations of Greek and Roman antiquity and racism and Eurocentrism within the profession itself. Seven Wonders: Remaking the Past retheorizes the classics and their legacy by investigating the seven great monuments of the ancient Mediterranean and their reinterpretation by modern and contemporary artists including Kara Walker, Diego Rivera, and Lakshmi Ramgopal.

The seven wonders are themselves a legacy of the classical tradition, a canon of architectural achievements considered most impressive by ancient Greek writers and passed down to the present by Roman, medieval and Renaissance scholars. But this canon also disrupts the idea of Greece and Rome as the heart of cultural value by spanning a broader ancient Mediterranean that includes Africa and the Middle East. Pairing the seven wonders with their afterlives in the work of artists from marginalized standpoints is a unique way to counter white supremacist appropriations of ancient Mediterranean artworks and imagine a new future for classical studies, one that no longer upholds Greek and Roman material as the source of white superiority.

To understand how modern and contemporary artists have transformed the canonical seven wonders, Professor Bosak-Schroeder will use classical reception studies, which analyzes how ancient texts, artworks and ideas have been repackaged and recirculated in later periods. Imagined as a book, Seven Wonders also has the potential to become an interactive website and campus installation.