“When a Text Isn’t Funny Anymore: Ovid’s Art of Love

Given that some of its humor is no longer funny for modern readers, what is the pedagogical value of humor in Ovid’s Art of Love today? In particular, portions of the poem depicting and even endorsing rape pose challenges for teachers who wish to acknowledge and share Ovid’s humor in Art of Love with their students. By situating portions of the Art of Love that are especially troubling for modern readers in the broader context of the poem’s dominant comic mode, I hope to show how our modern disquiet over those parts of the poem addressing rape can point us productively toward critiques inherent in Ovid’s poem itself.