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Dr. Peter Toohey

I have done quite a lot of work on the history of melancholy in the ancient world:

Melancholy, Love, and Time: Boundaries of the Self in Ancient Literature, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2004, and Rufus of Ephesus and the Tradition of the Melancholic Thinker’, Rufus of Ephesus: “On Melancholy”, ed. Peter Pormann, SAPERE , Mohr Siebeck: Tübingen, 2008: 221-243).

I'm presently looking into the representation of madness in the Roman legal code “Madmen in the Digest”, Mental Disorders in Classical Antiquity: Definition and Diagnosis, ed. W.S. Harris, Columbia Studies in the Classical Tradition, New York: Columbia UP. In 2011 my book on boredom was published, "Boredom: A Lively History, London and New Haven: Yale University Press." This book and my work was recently referenced: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/lifematters/the-science-and-benefits-of-boredom/5763830

Background:

Dr. Toohey has a BA and MA from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia and PhD from the University of Toronto in Classics. He taught for many years in his native Australia before coming to Calgary as Head of the Department for Greek and Roman Studies (http://grst.ucalgary.ca/) in 2000. His books (sole authored or edited) are as follows: Reading Epic (1992), Epic Lessons (1996), Inventing Ancient Culture (1997), Sex and Difference in Greece and Rome (2003), Melancholy, Love, and Time (2004), Sexuality in the Ancient World (2009). His interests in ancient medicine relate to the history of the emotions, to mental illness, and to gender.


Research Project:

Ancient literature features many powerful narratives of madness, depression, melancholy, lovesickness, simple boredom, and the effects of such psychological states upon individual sufferers. I focus the attention to representations of these emotional states in the Classical, Hellenistic, and especially the Roman imperial periods by illuminating the cultural and aesthetic significance of this emotionally charged literature. The probing analysis shows that a shifting representation of these afflicted states, and the concomitant sense of isolation from one's social affinities and surroundings, manifests a developing sense of the self and self-consciousness in the ancient world. My research contributes to a variety of disciplines including classical studies, comparative literature, literary and art history, history of medicine, history of emotions, psychiatry, and psychology.

Melancholy, Love, and Time makes an important contribution to classical studies, comparative literature, cultural studies, the history of psychology and medicine, as well as to the burgeoning field of the history of emotions.

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