Vice director Elina Pyy’s research project “Rewriting Rape: Archetypes of Sexual Violence in Ancient Myth and on the Contemporary Screen” (2019–2023) explores the narratives of sexual violence in ancient mythology and how these myths recur in twenty-first-century film and TV fiction.
The research will show how the legacy of Antiquity influences the ways in which modern screen fiction depicts sexual violence, and how current discourses of bodily integrity and self-determination affect how ancient myths are interpreted and rewritten.
The project is linked to the academic debate on whose voice is heard in narratives of sexual violence, how the victim/survivor experience is (or is not) verbalized, and how textual subjectivity is constructed in these cultural narratives.
Pyy applies methods from narratology to the study of ancient literature, and feminist film theory to contemporary reinterpretations of myths. She approaches ancient mythology as a living and changing tradition, where each retelling of a myth – from Antiquity to today – not only reflects its time, but also changes our understanding of what that myth means.
Pyy is particularly interested in applying the critical methods of gender, literary, linguistic, and film studies to examine ancient sources. She has published numerous articles on the connections between heroism, masculinity, and cultural identity in Roman poetry, as well as the monographs The Semiotics of Caesar Augustus (Bloomsbury, 2018), in which she explores how interpretations of the emperor’s character changed in Western culture, and Women and War in Roman Epic (Brill, 2020).