Virtual symposium on Plautus and the women of Washington University

Virtual symposium on Plautus and the women of Washington University

A day of lectures, discussion, and performance exploring a historic event at Washington University in St. Louis

In 1884, the Washington University Ladies' Literary Society staged one of the first American performances of an ancient Roman comedy in LatinRudens ("The Rope"), first staged by Plautus in the early second century BCE. The event was marked not only by the group's efforts to make Plautus' style and humor accessible to a contemporary audience, but by its striking engagement with social issues such as slavery and gender. 

Our symposium on February 6, free and open to the public, will begin with four lectures introducing us to Plautus’ Rudens, to the story behind the historic 1884  performance in St. Louis, and to the cultural and academic landscape in which it emerged. In the afternoon after the lectures, members of the university and local Classics community will give a virtual performance of the play using the translation produced by the Ladies' Literary Society.

Morning session

9:00–9:45 am: Timothy Moore (Washington University in St. Louis): “Women and their voices in Plautus’ Rudens

9:45–10:30 am: Julia Beine (Ruhr-Universität Bochum): “‘Something of great moment is about to happen’: Plautus’ Rudens in translation and performance by the Ladies’ Literary Society of Washington University”

11:00–11:45 am: Judith Hallett (University of Maryland): “Ultra veritatem muliebris vis: women classicists in the dawning of post-bellum America”

11:45 am–12:30 pm: Amanda Clark (Missouri History Museum): “Women’s cultural and intellectual clubs of late 19th century St. Louis”


Afternoon session

2:00–3:30 pm: Virtual performance of Rudens, using the 1884 translation and directed by Washington University Classics PhD candidate Henry Schott

This event is co-sponsored by the Washington University Performing Arts Department.