The University of Wisconsin Press

Classical Studies / Gender & Sexuality / Literature & Criticism


Pandora’s Senses
The Feminine Character of the Ancient Text
Vered Lev Kenaan

Wisconsin Studies in Classics

William Aylward, Nicholas D. Cahill, and Patricia A. Rosenmeyer, Series Editors

“This book makes an important contribution to three approaches to classics: feminism, myth criticism, and textual theory. Lev Kenaan creatively explores the way female subjectivity is embedded in masculine texts.”
—Margaret M. Toscano, The Classical Review

The notorious image of Pandora haunts mythology: a woman created as punishment for the crimes of man, she is the bearer of hope yet also responsible for the earth’s desolation. She binds together perpetuating dichotomies that underlie the most fundamental aspects of the Western canon: beauty and evil, body and soul, depth and superficiality, truth and lie. Speaking in multiplicity, Pandora emerges as the first sign of female complexity.

In this compelling study, Vered Lev Kenaan offers a radical revision of the Greek myth of the first woman. She argues that Pandora leaves a decisive mark on ancient poetics and shows that we can unravel the profound impact of Pandora’s image once we recognize that Pandora embodies the very idea of the ancient literary text. Locating the myth of the first woman right at the heart of feminist interrogation of gender and textuality, Pandora’s Senses moves beyond a feminist critique of masculine hegemony and shows the centrality of this iconic figure among the poetics of such central genres as the cosmological and didactic epic, the Platonic dialogue, the love elegy, and the ancient novel. Pandora’s Senses innovates our understanding of gender as a critical lens through which to view ancient literature.

A photo of author Vered Lev Kenaan.Vered Lev Kenaan is senior lecturer of Hebrew and comparative literature at the University of Haifa.


“One of those rare academic books that can truly be called inspiring. . . . This is a book that I expect to return to many times as I attempt to digest more fully its complex argument and its implications for feminist criticism of ancient texts.”
—Lillian Doherty, Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature

Media & bookseller inquiries regarding review copies, events, and interviews can be directed to the publicity department at or (608) 263-0734. (If you want to examine a book for possible course use, please see our Course Books page. If you want to examine a book for possible rights licensing, please see Rights & Permissions.)

The cover of Pandora's Senses is a golden brown, with an illustration typical of Greek pottery of Pandora opening a box.

June 2010
LC: 2007011821 PN
272 pp.    6 x 9

Book icon
Cloth $55.00 s
ISBN 978-0-299-22410-3
Paper $29.95 a
ISBN 978-0-299-22414-1
Shopping cart ADD TO CART
  Review cart contents
Secure checkout



Home | Books | Journals | Events | Textbooks | Authors | Related | Search | Order | Contact

If you have trouble accessing any page in this web site, contact our Web manager.

Updated 4/23/2014

© 2010, The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System