Semester of Graduation

Summer 2021

Degree

Master of Arts in Liberal Arts (MALA)

Department

Liberal Arts

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

This study examines three contemporary novels of fan fiction, authored by women, that retell the Trojan War: Emily Hauser’s For the Most Beautiful (2016), Pat Barker’s The Silence of the Girls (2018), and Nathalie Haynes’ A Thousand Ships (2019). This study offers a reading of contemporary Homeric reception by analyzing the conversations that the novels initiate between each other, Homer’s Iliad, and Euripides’ tragedies, Hecuba (424 BCE) and Trojan Women (415 BCE). The study establishes a connection between the three authors and Euripides by treating the novels as works of fan fiction. In so doing, the study identifies aspects of Homer’s Iliad that Hauser, Barker, and Haynes find lacking, namely reductive ideas of the “heroic” and Achilles’ achievement of glory through battle. The authors adopt a reading of Achilles in the Iliad that suggests these ideas carry with them consequences for women that Homer either overlooks or underrepresents. In undermining these Homeric ideals, the three authors incorporate aspects of Euripides in their representation of tragic ideas to differing degrees, which reveal distinct messages in each novel. Further, the study argues that the novels’ portrayals of Briseis’ and Hecuba’s experiences and the messages evoked reflect growing cultural concerns of sexual violence and calls for female empowerment prevalent during the Trump administration and representative of the #MeToo movement, both of which were transpiring at the time of the publication of these novels. This study’s view of the reception of Homer by the novelists offers a reflection on self and society for twenty-first century readers of Homer and Euripides.

Committee Chair

Fletcher, Kristopher

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