Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2000.08.07
Thomas M. Falkner, Nancy Felson, David Konstan, Contextualizing Classics: Ideology, Performance, Dialogue: Essays in Honor of John J. Peradotto. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1999. Pp. x + 359. ISBN 0-847-69733-9. $27.95.
Reviewed by Matthew B. Roller, Johns Hopkins University (email@example.com)
Word count: 4758 words
Charles P. Segal, Peter W. Rose, Marilyn A. Katz, Froma I.Zeitlin, Simon Goldhill, Gregory Nagy, Joseph Russo, Thomas M. Falkner, Rachel Kitzinger, Carolyn Dewald, Mitchell Miller, Natalie Boymel Kampen, Seth L. Schein, Caroline Eades and Françoise Létoublon, Martha A. Malamud, David Konstan, John J. Peradotto
The essays in this collection derive from a 1997 conference on "Interdisciplinarity and the Classics", which the collection's editors organized to honor John Peradotto's twenty-year tenure (1975-95) as editor of Arethusa. It is a festschrift, but the contributions make clear that the honorand is the journal no less than its editor. Most of the scholars associated with this volume, whether as contributors or editors, have also published in Arethusa at least once; some of them -- notably Segal, Katz, and Konstan -- have published there many times, and indeed have been important intellectual presences in the journal since its inception. The title Contextualizing Classics, then, seems intended to encompass not just the contents of this collection, but the overall aims of Arethusa itself. The subtitle Ideology, Performance, Dialogue labels three dimensions of culture that many of the essays engage to one degree or another; subsections within the collection bear these labels. Now, the publicity blurb on the back cover states that "[t]aken together, the essays offer a spectrum of new approaches to the classics." Combining this assertion with the title, I infer that the editors are suggesting (and I agree) that a growing scholarly concern with "culture", especially these three dimensions of it, over the past generation constitutes a new approach to classics, distinguished from other approaches in part by its broadly interdisciplinary, theoretically aware orientation.
Overall the essays are quite strong (or seem so to this reviewer, who immediately concedes his lack of specialist knowledge in the Greek topics that overwhelmingly constitute the collection), and it is probably unfair to fault a collection 359 pages long for failing, in the end, to represent the full range of current classical scholarship that is interdisciplinary and concerns itself with issues such as ideology, performance, and dialogue. Nevertheless, this volume could easily have been more inclusive and representative than it is: it fails to do justice even to the range of pertinent work published in Arethusa over the years, most strikingly (but not only) because of its almost complete neglect of Roman studies. Consequently, I have strong reservations about the appropriateness of entitling the volume in a way that that claims to encompass a particular approach ("Contextualizing ...") to the field as a whole ("... Classics"). More on these matters in the last three paragraphs of this review, to which impatient readers may now skip.
The introductory piece is Charles Segal's "Retrospection on Classical Literary Criticism", reprising a piece on (then-) current trends in literary criticism that he contributed to the very first volume of Arethusa in 1968. Surveying the broad movements in Greek literary studies in the past thirty years, he identifies fundamental shifts in emphasis from text to context, and from thematics to pragmatics. Methodologically these shifts have been accompanied and facilitated by the rise of Marxist, feminist, anthropological, and semiotic modes of reading, which have established myth, ritual, and ideology as central categories of investigation, displacing historical positivism, biographical criticism, and most of the concerns of New Criticism. He concludes with a brief "prospect," identifying opportunities (e.g., technology) and constraints (e.g., increasingly abstruse theory, and decreasingly literate students) that may shape the field's development in the next decades.
Part I, "Ideology," contains four essays. Peter Rose opens with "Theorizing Athenian Imperialism and the Athenian State", in which he surveys the links between imperialism and democracy in 5th-century Athens from the perspective of post-colonial and Marxist theory. Declaring that economic motives for Athenian imperialism should be taken seriously, he draws parallels between modern articulations of empire in terms of "altruism" and "benefaction", on the one hand, and "straight power concepts" on the other (both often expressed in economic terms), with the arguments made by Kleon and Diodotos in the Mytilenian debate (20-26). He then suggests that the first expansionist moves by Athens in the 6th century are consequences of Athenian internal class conflict over inadequate agricultural resources in Attica. Subsequently, Kleisthenes' approaches to Persia and establishment of the first klerouchy, together with the Themistoklean development of naval power, not only did not affect existing property relations but can be seen as sustaining them by trying to defuse land pressure in ways other than property redistribution: that is, notwithstanding democratic political institutions, an Althusserian ideological state apparatus sustained propertied interests by turning class conflict outward into empire (27-33). His claim, however, that the liturgical class produced what came to be a dominant imperialist discourse in their own interest (34-36), buttressed by his quotation of the famous dictum of Marx that the means of mental production reside with the class that controls the means of material production, seems to embrace the idea of a "dominant ideology" without accounting for the powerful challenges this idea has received in recent years.1
Marilyn Katz, in "Women and Democracy in Ancient Greece", contends that the meaning of Athenian women's exclusion from political rights has not been adequately investigated, either by feminists or by analysts of Athenian democracy. The former, she argues, have elided the question of women's relation to the political domain by lumping disempowered Athenian women in with all other disempowered women up to the 20th century, while the latter have done so by lumping them in with metics and slaves -- a lumping made natural, she argues, by an 18th-century model of sharply separate private and public spheres (45-55). She contends that (male) slaves and metics were not in principle excluded from full political participation, since the latter could be granted citizenship, and the former, if freed, assumed the status of metics. Women alone were excluded both in principle and in practice from holding the political rights of adult citizen males. Yet by adopting a broader understanding of to politikon, i.e., that what most Athenians (citizens and non-citizens, men and women) actually did most days was work for a living or celebrate religious festivals, one can recognize the leisured male aristocrat and his stay-at-home wife as an anomaly, not the norm: the woman breadseller of Aristophanes' Wasps who hauls Philocleon before the agoranomos for damaging her goods may be a more "typical" citizen woman, who has access to legal remedies and is by no means stuck in the "private sphere." Katz's contention that we could profitably broaden our conception of what constitutes "politics" is eminently sensible, and has in fact been going on, at least in Roman studies, for some years now.2 But the arsenal of comparative material (especially from 18th and 19th century France) that she deploys, while fascinating in its own right, does not seem strictly necessary to bring her argument to this conclusion.
Froma Zeitlin is next, with a beautifully written piece entitled "Utopia and Myth in Aristophanes' Ecclesiazousae." After surveying some critical approaches that see in this play the decline of the genre, the poet, and/or the Athenian polis, Zeitlin suggests a new kind of context in which to illuminate its ideological investments. The utopian thematics and action of the play -- women deposing men from political power, the inversion or effacement of gender and sex roles, and the dissolution of divisions between oikos and polis -- reprise, in reverse, the action and thematics of the Athenian foundation myth wherein the women, having outvoted the men to install Athena rather than Poseidon as the city's tutelary divinity, were subsequently deprived by Kekrops of their vote and political rights: for it was here, in the Athenian imaginary, that a sexual division of labor and patrilineal principle was established, that oikos was separated from polis, and that gynecocracy was replaced by patriarchy. Connecting this myth with the transition from the (golden) age of Kronos to the Olympian order, Zeitlin suggests that the Ekklesiazousai posits precisely a return to a golden-age, pre-Kekropian, gynecocratic community where ages and sexes are promiscuously mixed, and abundance and freedom from toil are promised. Ideologically speaking, then, the play is an exploration of longstanding and persistent culture / nature, ruling / ruled polarities in their gendered dimensions (women belonging to the latter term in each polarity). While Zeitlin acknowledges that "topical concerns ... [may] lend a timely atmosphere to the play" (85), she does not here pursue the question why Aristophanes might have chosen to stage these enduring concerns in this particular way at this particular time.
Rounding out the "ideology" section is Simon Goldhill's "Body/Politics: Is There a History of Reading?" Goldhill contends that "the conceptualization of the speaking subject, the cultural frames of interpretation, and the idea(l)s of the body ... [inform] the notion of reading", and that reading consequently "needs a history that goes beyond book-production and vocalization and literacy" (118). He argues this contention on the basis of three exemplary "moments" from different periods and cultures in antiquity. These moments are (1) the long methodological appendix to Isocrates' Panathenaicus in which the author and his students/audience evaluate and revise not only the speech itself, but also their own successive evaluations and revisions; (2) Plutarch's remarks showing the importance of the embodiment of reading in social formation of elites, whether in voice-training, the cultured exchange of poetic tags, the posture of students in the lecture hall, or ferreting out flatterers from vocal or facial expressions; and (3) Prudentius' weepy prostration before an image of the martyr Cassian, thus representing himself in an authoritative Christian position and involving the reader in a complex response to the poet's own response to the image. Goldhill's argument that "reading" has an (embodied) history transcending book production is persuasive, though it requires an exceptionally broad understanding of the act of "reading" (p. 90), as the interpretive acts and situations he discusses have little to do with texts (cf. Falkner at 175 n.3) -- I wonder whether "interpretation" or even "reception" might serve him as well, without requiring special pleading.
Part II, entitled "Performance," opens with Gregory Nagy's "Homer and Plato at the Panathenaia: Synchronic and Diachronic Perspectives." Here Nagy explores aspects of the rhapsodic performance of Homeric poetry at the Panathenaia, for which he adduces evidence from Plato's Hipparchus and especially Ion. Contending that the mid-sixth century to late-fourth century in Athens was a "definitive" period in which the Iliad and Odyssey received their definitive form (though were not yet "recorded" as fixed texts), he seeks to reconstruct, within this diachronic perspective, synchronic "snapshots" of the occasions for performing this poetry at the Panathenaia (126-28). In particular he examines Platonic and Homeric representations of the "relay mnemonics" of the rhapsodes -- one rhapsode's obligation to compete by picking up the sequence where another has left off. He suggests that such "relay" in rhapsodic performance did not require scripts, but nevertheless contributed to the unification of Homeric composition by imposing increasing limitations on the flexibility of recomposition-in-performance (132-34). He goes on to discuss ten expressions found in Plato that may have been technical terms used by real rhapsodes in this period to label their own activity (140-45), and concludes by observing that Plato makes Socrates' dialectic on Homer defeat that of the rhapsode Ion himself.
Joseph Russo picks up Nagy's examination of the orality of Homer from a different perspective. In "Sicilian Folktales, Cognitive Psychology, and Oral Theory" he argues that the dialect Sicilian folktales collected by Giuseppe Pitrè in the late 19th century display paratactic structure, question-answer format, and certain strategies for self-correction that are also familiar from Homer and indeed are typical of oral performance genres generally. Moreover, the conversion of such oral performances into written texts by "habitual literates" (in this case, Italo Calvino's reworking of the tales collected by Pitrè) involve certain kinds of grammatical correction and narrative regularization (152-54). The oral, "fragmented" mode is close to the actual process of thinking; the literate, "integrated" mode displays elaborately organized subordinate and coordinate syntax (158-59). But integration can also come about through the "ritualization" of natural speech in an oral tradition -- "serial recall guided by multiple constraints", which in Homer's case are provided by certain rhythmic, syntactic, and metrical/colometric principles (159-63). Thus Homeric language contains both oral, fragmented discourse and integrated, ritualized discourse. In conclusion he suggests that the most traditional forms of folktales, including Homeric epic, are those most constrained by "frames" and "scripts" (cognitive-psychological concepts that lay claim to universality in human cognition), while more derivative (e.g., literary) forms are freer of them. It is this immediate tapping of fundamental cognitive processes that makes traditional oral performance "gripping" and "deeply satisfying" (165-69).
Thomas Falkner further explores the complexities of performance in "Madness Visible: Ideology and Poetic Authority in Sophocles' Ajax." He discusses at length (181-99) the metatheatrics of the play's prologue: in a tragedy-within-a-tragedy, Athena (a figure whose poetic authority is analogous to the poet's) puts Ajax, in his madness, "on stage" before not only the "real" audience of the Sophoclean play, but also before Odysseus, who shares with the "real" audience an ability to see and understand not shared by the tragic hero (Ajax, in this mini-drama), and whose responses -- not laughter at his enemy's humiliation, but pity -- is paradigmatic for the responses of tragic audiences generally. At the end of the prologue, however, Odysseus' privileged position as a viewer and interpreter is snatched away by Athena, who has also all along been subtly locating Odysseus in a position analogous to that of Ajax, showing him that his own position, by virtue of the human condition he and Ajax share, is equally precarious. Falkner affiliates his method of interpreting with modern theories of viewing that invest the subject of the gaze with power over the objectified object of the gaze (178-79).
Part III, entitled "Dialogue," opens with Rachel Kitzinger's "Sophoclean Dialogues," which investigates, from an angle different than Falkner, further aspects of poet-audience communication through tragedy. She argues that the audience's experience of Sophocles' Antigone is partly constituted by two world-views that compete, or are in dialogue: that of the actors, which presupposes a temporal sequentiality and causality of events and is manifested through speech and "acting", and that of the chorus, which locates human action within a divine order that is made present through the repetitive patterns of sound and movement that constitute the choral song and dance -- an order in which temporal sequence and causality are irrelevant. Kitzinger sees no resolution to these competing discourses; Sophocles leaves them in dissonant tension. The audience, then, receives two authoritative, valid, but irreconcilable accounts of how things happen, leading to a "tragic realization" that outside the theatre it may not be possible to hold these two discourses together. While most would readily agree that the audience is an integral part of the performance of a tragedy (205 and n. 1), I nevertheless wonder whether the audience's role is best characterized as one voice in a "dialogue" (let alone a "silent dialogue", p. 214) when its role, as Kitzinger describes it, is merely that of receiving and pondering what the poet/play puts before it.
Next is Carolyn Dewald's "The Figured Stage: Focalizing the Initial Narratives of Herodotus and Thucydides." She compares these authors' uses of focalization early in their first books (since the narrative strategies displayed there are programmatic), to understand how and when each narrator allows other points of view into the narrative. Herodotus (224-33) quickly brings a mob of focalizers onto his "stage": the (presumed) author, the narrator, the objective narrative itself, and the various peoples or groups producing self-interested logoi. The narrator transmits, frames, and connects of the logoi of others in a cool, ironic, detached manner; the reader is given little guidance for adjudicating among competing logoi, or for determining at what level each should be credited. Thucydides (233-44), in contrast, initially introduces few focalizers: the Thucydides-narrator (so-called because the author identifies himself closely with the narrator early on), declaring his narrative aims and their assumptions about human motivation (239), is the overwhelmingly dominant focalizer early on. Later, in the Epidamnus-Corcyra-Corinth-Athens episode, other, self-interested focalizers appear. These focalizers lack the analytical narrator's grasp of the causes involved in events, yet they share with him a civic consciousness, and certain assumptions about the relationship between political discourse and action (248-9), that Herodotean focalizers do not share with their narrator. By making their focalizers operate in different ways, each author creates a distinctive kind of "dialogue" among various points of view.
Concluding the "Dialogue" section is Mitchell Miller's "Platonic Mimesis", a short interpretation of the form of Platonic dialogue (with the Crito as exemplary text) as an adaptation of tragic mimesis. Miller observes that the dialogues were not performed with actors, but their drama was recreated internally; that they were not staged before a mass audience but, probably, were read before small groups, inviting inquiry and discussion; that, though they emerge from a richly sketched initial social situation, they subordinate action and character to inquiry; and finally that there is no music or rhythm but rather conversation, and no heroic characters but rather a cast of figures not unlike "us," the implied 4th-century Athenian readers. In this modified dramatic "experiential space" (254), the dialogues mimetically present to us (the implied readers) a confrontation between our uninspected values and philosophical ones. In the Crito, "our" values are initially voiced by Crito, and the philosophical voice by Socrates; but subsequently the Laws themselves take up this philosophical voice, while Socrates mimes the "everyman" role. As relatively detached spectators, then, we (the readers) watch our values and views undergoing refutation and reorientation. But the Platonic philosophical voice does not merely elicit and then refute "everyday" human insight: broadly following the structure of Parmenides' poem, it also shows us paths that lead ultimately to the recognition of a higher truth. It then returns to human opinion in a move that is rather hard to understand, but may (Miller suggests, p. 263) constitute a test or challenge to the reader/auditor, who should object to this return if he has understood the lesson so far.3
Part IV is itself entitled "Contextualizing Classics", and its contents survey more generally the State Of The Profession and modern appropriations of classical antiquity. Natalie Kampen and Seth Schein open with surveys of the role(s) actually or potentially played in classics by gender studies and cultural studies, respectively. Kampen is an optimist, demonstrating how the distinctive assumptions and questions of various gender theories -- in particular the understanding of gender as a socially constructed relational system of behavior and thought, rather than a natural/biological "given" -- have invigorated classical archaeology over the last generation, and stand to contribute much more; an amusing and engaging description of ways that critics have approached, and might approach, the Aphrodite of Knidos (276-79) exemplifies both what has been gained and what still may be gained. Schein, on the other hand, is a pessimist. He depicts classics as (with some qualifications) a hidebound field, intellectually marginalized within the humanities by reason of its complacent, elitist confidence in the self-evident validity and worthiness of both its objects of study and its methods; he invokes Pauly-Wissowa, encoding and embodying the positivist, totalizing Altertumswissenschaft of the 19th century, as the iconic image of classical studies today (287). Cultural studies, he suggests, can help bail us out through its emphasis on historicizing its objects of study, its alertness to competing discourses as arenas for negotiating power relationships, its awareness of the contingency and constructedness of sociocultural formations, and its refusal to privilege high cultural artifacts over "mass" or "popular" ones. While I heartily agree that classicists can gain much from engaging seriously with the questions and methods of cultural studies, Schein's rather lurid portrayal of the condition of the field today is overdrawn; this volume itself, not to mention Arethusa, amply testifies the field's openness to new methods and questions (cf. Konstan below, who portrays the field more as I see it). Also, to use RE as an icon of the current state of the field -- even of its most traditional strains -- is simply silly. A more pertinent icon of intellectual and methodological conservatism in contemporary classics might be ANRW, whose totalizing ambitions, highly traditional framing of questions and areas of investigation, and often very conservative scholarship make it contrast strikingly with its coeval Arethusa -- it was inaugurated just four years later, and expands apace to this day. Finally, I cannot let pass a (more or less) throwaway line on p. 293, in which Schein contrasts Thucydides and Euripides, "whose disenchanted writings invite their audiences and readers to be intellectually and socially critical and self-critical", with Cicero, "whose persuasive and didactic works uncritically reflect the values of the Roman nobility he managed to join". If Schein believes this of Cicero, it can only be that he is applying too narrowly (i.e., not to Cicero) the cultural-studies approach he himself advocates. For it is hard to think of an author who more overtly, self-consciously, and prolifically seeks to interrogate, nuance, reorient, and reground traditional elite values in the face of powerful contemporary challenges to the hegemony of these values -- challenges coming from within as well as outside the elite, and not least from arrivistes like Cicero himself.4
The next two essays discuss aspects of the appropriation of classical antiquity in the modern west. Caroline Eades and Franc,oise Létoublon's "From Film Analysis to Oral-Formulaic Theory: The Case of the Yellow Oilskins" examines the manifold ways in which the Greek filmmaker Théo Angelopoulos not only deploys characters and themes from Homer and tragedy, but also uses filmic techniques that resemble, formally and in their narrative effects, strategies of formulaic oral poetic composition as described by Parry and Lord. Subsequently Martha Malamud, in "Mass-Market Romans", discusses the representations of the late republic conjured by Colleen McCullough's best-selling series of historical novels, in light of contemporary American sexual and family politics, the marketing needs of corporate publishing houses, and McCullough's representations of her own life experiences.
The collection concludes by returning to Arethusa itself. David Konstan's "Arethusa and the Politics of Criticism" considers some of the support and resistance this journal's theoretical orientation has generated in its thirty years of existence. While "theory" has occasioned vigorous debate in classics, this debate has not riven our field, as it has other fields -- a boon that Konstan attributes to the inherent "area studies" aspect of classics, whereby classicists of all specializations take for granted that evidence of every sort is potentially relevant to the interpretation of their own objects of study, and hence have always already been aware that there are no "literary values" (or indeed values of any kind) isolatable from other aspects of life and culture (342-43). In Konstan's view (cf. Schein above), classical philology has been moderately successful in recent years in "uniting rigorous scholarship with theoretical sophistication" (345); here Arethusa has played and will continue to play an important role. The final piece is a brief set of thanks and reflections on his editorship by John Peradotto.
The title Contextualizing Classics makes an ambitious claim about surveying the entire field, or rather those approaches that are concerned with interdisciplinarity and contextualization, that is at best partially borne out in the collection itself. A more descriptive title might be Mid-Career and Senior American Scholars Contextualizing Greek Literary Texts, Plus a Few Thoughts on Classics Today. The fact that Arethusa is an American journal may justify the heavily American roster of contributors -- Goldhill and Eades-Létoublon being (I believe) the only exceptions; also, the journal's generally literary and historical focus perhaps accounts for the dearth of art historians and archeologists, aside from Kampen's brief theoretical overview. Ancient philosophy is represented only in Miller's short piece -- a bit more puzzling, in view of Arethusa's pattern of publishing in this area. Still more puzzling is the notable absence of younger scholars from this collection, which ill-accords with Arethusa's honorable record of printing pathbreaking work by scholars early in their careers. Entirely inexplicable, however, and frankly disturbing, is the collection's overwhelming, unabashed Hellenocentrism. Contents and title together construct a giant synecdoche whereby "Greek" becomes coextensive with "classics." The collection completely disregards Arethusa's significant contributions to Roman studies -- most notably in Latin epic and lyric, Ovid, and in certain sociocultural issues, including slavery and gender. A major piece of Peradotto's legacy is thereby neglected. Indeed, were it not for Malamud's piece and a few pages of Goldhill, one would hardly know from this collection that Roman studies are a part of classics, or that scholars (including "contextualizing", interdisciplinary ones) work in that area. I myself was mystified when first skimming the collection, wondering where the Roman material was, indeed wondering how there could be no Roman material in a book so titled. Then I asked myself why the editors of BMCR solicited me, a confirmed Romanist, to review such a collection. Perhaps they too were deceived by the title, assumed there must be a modicum of Roman content, and so figured Romanist could serve? Fittingly or no, I did choose in the end to write the review. For I consider myself a (contextualizing, interdisciplinary) classicist too, and therefore should not feel constrained from reviewing a collection that claims to represent this set of approaches within the field as a whole.5
I wonder, then, if the editors might consider undertaking a companion volume that honors this further aspect of Peradotto's achievement as editor of Arethusa: his encouragement and welcoming of innovative scholarship on Roman topics. This collection could resemble the current one in its structure and in its focus on explicitly theorized approaches to literary, cultural, and historical questions; it could also cleave generally to the principle of inviting those who have already contributed to Arethusa. Let me suggest some contributors. Under "ideology," perhaps David Konstan himself might offer something (representing a group of scholars, himself included, who in the mid-seventies published in Arethusa on Marxist approaches to Roman antiquity), as might Keith Bradley, some of whose pioneering work on slavery appeared in Arethusa in the seventies, and Susanna Braund (2x a contributor in recent years). Under "contextualizing classics," perhaps Ellen Greene (3x) would supply one of her theoretically informed, gender-aware pieces on Latin lyric, as might Paul Allan Miller (at least 2x), and Trevor Fear on elegy -- the guest editor and also a contributor to the Spring 2000 special issue on this topic. Under "performance" any of William Fitzgerald's (4x) work could find a place (though it could also reside happily under "ideology" or "dialogue"); also Andrew Riggsby, whose one contribution to Arethusa is an important study of the younger Pliny as a social actor. An innovative area of work in Roman studies is the structuring of narrative and memory according to geographic or topographic principles: significant contributions to this emerging area by Mary Jaeger (1x), Ellie Leach (at least 4x), and Andrew Feldherr (1x) have appeared in Arethusa in recent years. Perhaps these scholars could form a section of their own, with Catherine Edwards as a special invitee. Indeed, since (I think) not every contributor to the volume under review has published in Arethusa, a few of the uninitiated might also be invited for the Roman volume: scholars such as Alessandro Barchiesi, Shadi Bartsch, Mary Beard, Jean-Michel David, Florence Dupont, Tom Habinek, Brad Inwood, and John Scheid could contribute innovative work under one or more of the current volume's rubrics. My list of Romanists is somewhat more international than the roster of the current volume -- a good thing, if the collection aims to represent an entire approach to the field. Also, along with pillars of the profession it includes some relative youngsters: not only because of the quality and interest of their work, but also because younger scholars have always been a significant part of Arethusa's profile.
The text is fairly clean, especially for what I take to be a self-edited collection, though there are some distracting errors, typos, and formatting glitches (e.g., in Miller's footnotes the Greek is systematically mangled). In so disparate a collection no comprehensive index could be of much value, and this one is no exception: it is very short, with many of its entries either too broad or too narrow to be useful in orienting and guiding the casual user. Consider the seven entries under "C": Calvino, Italo; chasidism; chorus and dialogue; classics (classical) [with reference to only one article!]; cognitive psychology and narrative; computers; cultural studies. The table of contents is a much more useful guide, especially since most users will (I suspect) be consulting individual pieces within the collection, not reading it in its entirety. Due to the diversity of material it contains, reading it cover-to-cover is much like the experience of reading ... well, about three issues of Arethusa cover-to-cover.
1. Against the idea of "dominant ideology" see Nicholas Abercrombie, Stephen Hill, and Bryan S. Turner, The Dominant Ideology Thesis, London: Allen & Unwin, 1980; also James C. Scott, Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts, New Haven: Yale U. Press, 1990.
2. See e.g. Anton Powell, ed., Roman Poetry and Propaganda in the Age of Augustus. Worcester: Bristol Classical Press, 1992; Thomas Habinek and Alessandro Schiesaro, eds., The Roman Cultural Revolution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1997.
3. Senecan dialogues too mimetically refute everyday values and replace them with philosophical (here Stoic) values -- though when Seneca, as he sometimes does, invokes everyday values in support of privileged, philosophical values, it is (however paradoxically) an attempt to persuade, to ground the philosophical arguments in the "common conceptions" that are ultimately to be displaced -- rather than an attempt to test. That Seneca, who saw himself as part of a Socratic tradition, constructs his dialogues in this way may suggest he read Plato as Miller does. For the confrontation between philosophically uninspected, "traditional" ethics of Seneca's interlocutors and the (generally) Stoic, philosophical voice of Seneca himself in the treatises and letters, see Brad Inwood, "Politics and Paradox in Seneca's De Beneficiis", in Justice and Generosity eds. André Laks and Malcolm Schofield (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 241-65, at 250; also my forthcoming Constructing Autocracy: Aristocrats and Emperors in Julio-Claudian Rome (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001), chapter 2 passim.
4. See especially Thomas Habinek, "The Politics of Candor in Cicero's De Amicitia", Apeiron 23 (1990): 165-85, and now Andrew Riggsby, Crime and Community in Ciceronian Rome (Austin: U. T. Press, 1999), e.g. 105-119. On the instability of and challenges to "traditional" aristocratic values in the late Republic more generally, see for starters D. C. Earl, The Moral and Political Tradition of Rome (Ithaca: Cornell U. P., 1967).
5. I note that this volume is published in Greg Nagy's series "Greek Studies: Interdisciplinary Approaches." Does this preclude serious engagement with Roman material? If so, all the more reason for the collection to bear a different title, and to dispense with the express and implied claims that it broadly represents Arethusa and/or classics as a whole.