Hey everyone! For my digital project, I would like to take my original print project proposal and turn it into a digital one. I will quickly summarize that proposal here. I essentially want to dive into the social debates surrounding Cleopatra’s representation. In my personal opinion, this seems like a polarizing topic that people are generally invested in. People are constantly going back and forth about her skin color debating whether she was Macedonian, Egyptian, or both. These debates came up again recently when it was announced that Gal Gadot would play Cleopatra in an upcoming film. Here is what Gadot had to say during an interview with BBC Arabic’s Sam Asi, “First of all if you want to be true to the facts then Cleopatra was Macedonian. We were looking for a Macedonian actress that could fit Cleopatra. She wasn’t there, and I was very passionate about Cleopatra.” Throughout this debate over Cleopatra’s race, people make claims like Gadot based on facts. Well, what are the facts? I want this project to explore the different claims that people make regarding Cleopatra’s race and trace how those claims are based on historical facts or lack thereof.
I originally wanted to trace these debates over a variety of media forms and I would still like to do that for this version as well. I would like to collect tweets using the Twitter API and twarc2. This will allow me to collect tweets that reference Cleopatra. I also want to look through blog posts, scholarly and non-scholarly ones, to consider how historians insert themselves into this public debate. Finally, I wanted to consider the nature of this debate on Reddit using the Pushift Reddit Search tool which will allow me to search for posts and comments about Cleopatra. Here comes the experimental twist.
Using either WordPress or Medium, I want to create a blog that is dedicated to exploring this debate. I could have one blog post dedicated to my search on Twitter and another dedicated to my search on Reddit. However, I want this blog to be styled in a similar way to the blog from the film Julie & Julia. If you haven’t seen the film, Julie decides to write a blog about her journey cooking the French recipes from Julia’s cookbooks. I want my blog to not only explore the debate surrounding Cleopatra’s representation but also explore my methodology and overall process linking the claims of the debate with historical evidence. Public documentation of my documentation of the debate on Cleopatra’s representation could create a trail for other people to explore the debate.
It would be amazing if my search led to the ultimate discovery of Cleopatra’s race, but this is highly unlikely. Overall, this debate seems to get a lot of people interested in the field of Classics (Egyptology should be categorized under Classics in my opinion). This blog has the potential to create discourse around public historical debates. I think it is particularly interesting for public historians to understand the nature of public historical debates and I hope that this blog could provide useful commentary on this debate in particular.