Euripides' Medea: Tragic Lessons in Leadership, Justice and the Feminine
What lessons can a Greek tragedy written in 431 BCE hold for us in today's America? SBCC English professor Jody Millward will address that question in the Garvin Theatre at 2:30 p.m. on April 3, 2019, when she presents the 40th Annual Faculty Lecture, "Euripides' Medea: Tragic Lessons in Leadership, Justice and the Feminine.”
In a recent interview, Dr. Millward explained, “It is somewhat ironic that I have been chosen to receive this honor, as the first and last time I gave a ‘lecture’ in the classroom was to fulfill my first assignment as a UCSB teaching assignment in composition. So my presentation will include ‘mini-lectures’ interwoven with materials that stimulate discussion or writing. As I do in my classes, I will include students reading key exchanges in the play. I will also share student insights from their journals, essays and research papers.”
The tragic tale of Medea, the princess who sacrificed home and family to help Jason (leader of the Argonauts) obtain the Golden Fleece, only to be rejected and betrayed by him after ten years of marriage and bearing him two sons, has been one of history’s most frequently performed Greek tragedies.
Issues of leadership, justice and societal attitudes toward women are at the heart of the play by Euripides. Dr. Millward’s presentation will explore the actions of the king of Corinth, calling into question whether he broke his vow as a leader to always do what is best for the kingdom when he allowed his daughter to marry Jason, then ordering Medea into exile. Medea’s actions after being betrayed by Jason and banished by the king prompts the question: Was she seeking justice or revenge? As a woman in ancient Greek society, what avenue for justice did she have? Jason chose to abandon Medea of his own free will but tried to blame fate and the gods when the result produced shocking consequences.
According to Dr. Millward, “All three characters made a fateful choice, and resolution brought no comfort. Tragedy is the world of no exit.”
Dr. Millward’s distinguished 25-year tenure at SBCC has seen her honored with numerous awards, including the Association of Community Colleges Trustees' William H. Meardy Faculty Award, the SBCC Faculty Excellence Award and the Hayward Award. She has also been instrumental in developing the Multicultural English Transfer Program (MET) and College Achievement Program (CAP).
Fellow members of faculty, staff and students participated in the process that led to her selection as this year’s annual faculty lecturer, the highest honor bestowed on an SBCC faculty member.
Dr. Millward’s faculty colleagues recognize her as a "tireless leader who innovates beyond her classroom" and a "constant source of support and insight for the English department and division."
Her students recognize her teaching excellence and caring. One student noted, "I have never met a more intuitive and supportive professor in my academic career. She deserves every award out there for the selfless work she commits herself to for the benefit/success of the students."