Department of English
Over the past two decades, there has been a significant increase in the number of feminist retellings of Greek mythology. These retellings serve to give voice to the marginalized female characters from ancient stories whose characterizations were deprioritized over their male counterparts. Furthermore, these stories connect the plights of ancient women with modern feminists to champion issues that women continue facing today. This study focuses on retellings of Homer’s The Odyssey, but these ideas and arguments are still largely applicable to other retellings of Greek mythology. Along with discussing The Odyssey, this project also analyzes three feminist retellings: Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad (2005), Madeline Miller’s Circe (2018), and Claire North’s Ithaca (2022). Most of this project focuses on analyzing each novel’s text in relation to secondary sources about them and about feminist ideals more broadly; however, especially for Ithaca—on which no scholarly research exists because of its recent publication date—papers on the evolution of feminist theory and interviews with the authors themselves have also been included. Atwood’s novel contains somewhat outdated feminist theory that offers generalized scathing reviews about patriarchy without embodying its own criticisms or engaging in nuanced ideas of intersectionality. Circe and Ithaca apply these more recent aspects of the feminist movement but offer opposing ideas on motherhood and on the reality of gaining justice in sexual assault cases. Each novel grapples with evolving ideas of feminism to explore feminine identity and advocate for issues that women continue to face thousands of years later.
Bretzinger, Brenna R., "Feminist Retellings of Homer's The Odyssey, 2005-2022" (2023). CURE Posters. 1.
Northern Illinois University