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Yale University Press
History Lesson: A Race Odyssey / Edition 1

History Lesson: A Race Odyssey / Edition 1

by Mary Lefkowitz


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History Lesson: A Race Odyssey / Edition 1

In the early 1990s, Classics professor Mary Lefkowitz discovered that one of her faculty colleagues at Wellesley College was teaching his students that Greek culture had been stolen from Africa and that Jews were responsible for the slave trade. This book tells the disturbing story of what happened when she spoke out.

Lefkowitz quickly learned that to investigate the origin and meaning of myths composed by people who have for centuries been dead and buried is one thing, but it is quite another to critique myths that living people take very seriously. She also found that many in academia were reluctant to challenge the fashionable idea that truth is merely a form of opinion. For her insistent defense of obvious truths about the Greeks and the Jews, Lefkowitz was embroiled in turmoil for a decade. She faced institutional indifference, angry colleagues, reverse racism, anti-Semitism, and even a lawsuit intended to silence her.

In History Lesson Lefkowitz describes what it was like to experience directly the power of both postmodernism and compensatory politics. She offers personal insights into important issues of academic values and political correctness, and she suggests practical solutions for the divisive and painful problems that arise when a political agenda takes precedence over objective scholarship. Her forthright tale uncovers surprising features in the landscape of higher education and an unexpected need for courage from those who venture there.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300126594
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 04/28/2008
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 208
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x (d)

About the Author

Mary Lefkowitz is Mellon Professor in the Humanities, Emerita, Wellesley College. She has published many books on classical culture, including Greek Gods, Human Lives (published by Yale University Press) and Not Out of Africa. In 2006 she was awarded a National Humanities Medal for outstanding excellence in teaching and scholarship and for championing high standards and integrity in the study of Ancient Greece and its relevance to contemporary thought. She lives in Wellesley, MA.

Table of Contents

Introduction     1
A Racist Incident?     15
Discovering Afrocentrism     26
Two Views of Ancient History     45
Turning Myths into History     58
A New Anti-Semitism     82
Truth or Slander?     95
Reparations?     105
A Racist Polemic?     115
Turning History into Fiction     131
Epilogue     148
Notes     161
Acknowledgments     189
Index     191

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