Nelly Oliensis promoted to full Professor

October 5, 2009

On July 1, 2009, Nelly Oliensis joined the ranks of full Professors in the Berkeley Classics Department.  Her promotion to full Professor is based on her distinguished record of teaching and service (including her effective four-year stint as Graduate Advisor), but most of all acknowledges the achievement of her second book. That book, Freud’s Rome: Psychoanalysis and Latin Poetry, will appear in November 2009 in the Cambridge series “Roman Literature and its Contexts,” coedited by Denis Feeney and Stephen Hinds.

Freud’s Rome is explicitly based on Freud rather than Lacan, but it also takes care to distance itself from the mainstream of Freudian (Oedipal...“Father”-focused) criticism by zeroing-in instead on three main themes which, while authentically Freudian, are not entirely mainstream: mourning, motherhood, and sexual difference/deprivation. Oliensis begins from the obvious and unarguable fact that literary texts do constantly—inescapably—contain numerous phrases and meanings, whether so intended by the text’s author or not, that seem to have come from some “unconscious” level of the imagination in composition and that thereby reveal levels and strands of signification that may differ from those of the ostensible (conscious) “master narrative,” and that these unconscious expressions can give voice to all kinds of repressed and inarticulate desires, only some of them sexual. With this groundwork laid, Oliensis offers a set of remarkable new readings of Catullus, Vergil, and Ovid.

Starting in Spring, Oliensis will be on leave for the calendar year 2010, in order to pursue a new project on Ovid’s Amores. Oliensis is only the second woman ever to serve as a full Professor in the Classics Department at Berkeley—and the first on the Latin side. We are delighted and proud to have Oliensis as our senior Latinist and leader of our Latin program.