Open House | The Odyssey and Breaking Bad, with Joel Christensen

Joel Christensen on the Odyssey, Breaking Bad, and Problematic Endings

Professor Joel Christensen (University of Texas, San Antonio) joined us to discuss the ways that Breaking Bad can help us rethink our reading of Odysseus and the violent ending of the Odyssey. He was joined in this video dialogue by several members of the community. Together they raise and discuss provocative questions such as:

  • How do Odysseus and Walter White function in similar ways?
  • Is Achilles the hero you want to be, while Odysseus is the human survivor you are?
  • How does the Odyssey test and transgress boundaries regarding violence as much as Breaking Bad?

We invite members to continue this dialogue in the discussion forum.

You may download a PDF transcript of the video: H25_Joel_Christensen_on_Odyssey_Breaking_Bad_Problematic_Endings

For further videos please visit the Watch page.

Joel Christensen

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Dr. Joel Christensen received his BA from Brandeis University in Classics and English and his PhD in Classics from New York University, earning an additional Certificate in Poetics and Theory. He is actively engaged in research that explores the development of literature and language in ancient Greece. His dissertation, “The Failure of Speech: Rhetoric and Politics in the Iliad“, an examination of the Iliad‘s internal conception of effective speech and the political importance of language, has developed into a series of articles on the use of language in Homer and the relationship between our Iliad  and a putative poetic tradition.

In addition to explorations of language in the Iliad, Dr. Christensen also collaborates with E.T.E. Barker (Open University, U. K.) on rivalry and generic relationships in Archaic Greek poetry. Together they have published articles on the new Archilochus fragment, Oedipus in the Odyssey and are in the midst of a long-term project on the use of Theban myths in Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. Barker and Christensen have published a Beginner’s Guide to Homerand plan to publish their second book (Homer’s Thebes) within the next few years. In conjunction with his teaching and research interests, Dr. Christensen also writes on myth and its relationship with literary representations: he has published on the Gilgamesh poems, Greek myth and modern science fiction. In addition to being an active researcher, Dr. Christensen also has interests in New Media and conventional publications; he has recently started serving as the book review editor for The Classical Journal.

Selected Publications

Forthcoming — “Time and Self-Referentiality in the Iliad and Frank Herbert’s Dune,” in Classical Traditions in Science Fiction, Brett Rogers and Benjamin Stevens (eds.). Oxford, 2015.

Forthcoming — (with E. T. E. Barker) “Odysseus’ Nostos and the Odyssey’s Nostoi.” G. Scafoglio (ed.). Studies on the Greek Epic Cycle. 2015.

Forthcoming —  “The Hero Herself: From Death-Giver to Storyteller in Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” in Ancient Women and Modern Media, William Duffy and Krishni Burns, eds. Cambridge Scholars Press, est. 2015.

Forthcoming — (with E. T. E. Barker) “Even Herakles Had to Die: Homeric ‘Heroism’, Mortality and the Epic Tradition”. Special Issue Trends in Classics: Homer and the Theban Tradition (Christos Tsagalis, ed.; 2014)

Forthcoming — “Diomedes’ Foot-wound and the Homeric Reception of Myth,” In Diachrony, Jose Gonzalez (ed.). De Gruyter series, MythosEikonPoesis. est. 2014.

Beginner’s Guide to Homer (with E. T. E. Barker), One World Publications (July, 2013)

“Aorist Morphology,” in Encyclopedia of Ancient Greek Language and Linguistics, ed. G. Giannakis, Brill. est. 2013.

“Innovation and Tradition Revisited: The Near-Synonymy of Homeric ΑΜΥΝΩ and ΑΛΕΞΩ as a Case Study in Homeric Composition.” The Classical Journal 108.3, 257-296.

“Ares: ἀΐδηλος: On the Text of Iliad 5.757 and 5.872.” Classical Philology 107.3, 230-238.

(with E.T.E. Barker) “On Not Remembering Tydeus: Agamemnon, Diomedes and the Contest for Thebes.” Materiali e Discussioni per l’Analisi dei Testi Classici 66, 9-44.

“First-Person Futures in Homer.” American Journal of Philology 131, 543-71.

For a complete list of publications, please see Dr. Christensen’s C.V.