Dr Jan Parker researches and writes on Tragedy and Classical Epic in Cambridge, where she teaches the Faculty of English Final year compulsory comparative literature paper, ’Tragedy’ Her latest book The Iliad and Odyssey: the Trojan War, Tragedy & Aftermath (1st Sept 2021) is inspired by generations of her Cambridge students.
She has lectured and presented widely with research collaborations in the UK, US and Greece; her books include Tradition, Translation, Trauma: The Classic and The Modern (Oxford University Press) and her edition of George Chapman’s classic translation of the Iliad and the Odyssey is published in the Classics of World Literature series.
Her teaching is based on providing glossed texts – translations with Greek key words marked in – which enable students to create engaged, critical readings for themselves: to read “through” rather than “in” translation. (As her Dialogic Education and the Problematics of Translation in Homer and Greek Tragedy ch.3 ‘Engaging with the Classic; Seeing through Translations’)
She has contributed many articles as well as founding the international journal Arts and Humanities in Higher Education: advisory reports for Higher Education Funding Council Centre for Classical Subjects, the Higher Education Academy, the American Association of University Language Programs (who published Critical and Intercultural Theory and Language Pedagogy; her chapter, ‘Framing Ideas from Classical Language Teaching, Past and Future’ available at https://scholarspace.manoa.hawaii.edu/bitstream/10125/69684/2010_08.pdf) and the Modern Languages Association of America (MLA); her latest article, ‘Accounting for Dignity in the Iliad, Ajax, Electra’ appeared inthe Dec 2020 issue of Literature and Medicine.
Praise for Jan Parker’s books:
Dialogic Education and the Problematics of Translation in Homer and Greek Tragedy
This book opens up a new way of reading classical literary texts, appropriate both to the needs and competencies of today’s university students and also, it is argued, to the classic texts themselves. The texts’ rich linguistic fabric is constructed out of the play of issues and character, of action and of evaluation; a play that is quickly lost in translation. The solution offered is not the traditional one of ever more intensive language teaching. Rather, the book argues for the provision of texts glossed with key words to enable students to create engaged, critical readings for themselves: to read “through” rather than “in” translation.
The Iliad and Odyssey: the Trojan War, Tragedy & Aftermath
‘the ideal companion to Homer and his heroes’ Prof. Barry Strauss, Cornell University
‘A triumph! This is the book Jan Parker was born to write’ Professor emerita Sue Clegg, The University of Newcastle, Australia
‘lively, illuminating and authoritative. A thoroughly enjoyable read.’ David Rintoul, Royal Shakespeare Company
‘Tremendous – Jan’s book extends a warm and wonderful invitation to share an experience of Homer that is at once scholarly and personal. It is a phenomenal resource’ Dr Elizabeth Rawlinson-Mills, University of Cambridge
‘Full of fascinating discussions’ Regius Professor emerita Pat Easterling, University of Cambridge
‘One of the many great features of this book is the glossing of key words, constantly allowing the reader an insight into the original Greek terms used to describe concepts such as honour and glory that are so important to Homer’s heroes.’ – Prof James Robson, Professor of Classical Studies, Open University
The book will be extremely useful for students and readers at all levels and of all ages coming to Homer. It’s very attractively and accessibly written, and manifests on every page the excitement and commitment as a teacher of these texts over many years, and to a variety of students. Emeritus Professor of English Literature David Hopkins, University of Bristol
The book seems to me to be, in effect, three books in one:
- A detailed set of plot summaries for both the Iliad and Odyssey, giving a clear direction as to the main issues raised in the poems, and how one might respond to particular moments in Homer’s narratives.
- A ‘glossary’ of key terms, clarifying Homer’s psychological and moral assumptions, which are often very different (at least on first acquaintance) from those of many modern readers. These sections of the Homer book are particularly valuable, since they preserve the key Greek terms in the original language, and render them in ways that make clear how susceptible they are to a range of meanings, rather than being easily translatable by one-word English equivalents. They go as far as is possible to make ‘Greek ways of thinking’ accessible to non-Greek readers: a new approach which makes your book particularly valuable.
- An attempt to explain why the Homeric poems offer such a diversity of interpretative possibilities for readers, and are thus well suited to the teaching process. For you, clearly (as for all inspiring teachers!) teaching involves the sharing and debating of individual responses to, and pleasures in, a text. It also depends on the faith that old texts can (whatever adjustments and re-orientations they engage with en route), speak directly to modern readers in a way that might entitle them to be regarded as ‘classics’.
Emeritus Professor of English Literature David Hopkins, University of Bristol