Lambda Classical Caucus
A Coalition of Queer Classicists and Allies


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LCC Panel, American Philological Association, January 4-7, 2007
Organizer: Ruby Blondell (

Historical figures from ancient Greece and Rome--such as Sappho, Plato, Alexander, Elagabalus and Hadrian--have played a vital part in the construction of modern queer identities, while the politics of sexuality has in turn influenced both the study of such figures and their representation in creative and scholarly works. More recently, the controversies surrounding Oliver Stone's movie Alexander have brought such issues into a larger and more public arena. The film supposedly broke new ground in its representation of an openly gay heroic protagonist, thereby prompting threatened lawsuits from the self-appointed custodians of Hellenic history; when the film was lambasted by critics (one called it "a festival of risible wiggery") and left audiences cold, Stone blamed its failure on its frankness about Alexander's relationship with Hephaistion, and responded by eliminating the offending moments for the DVD.

Inspired by this controversy, our panel will focus on contemporary appropriations and exploitations of iconically gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered figures from ancient Greek and Roman history. How have such figures been used to construct, celebrate and/or deny contemporary queer identities? How have these constructions played back into scholarship and/or popular "historical" or fictional representations? How has these characters' queerness been represented--or suppressed--in diverse media (film vs. TV vs. novels, "popular" vs "high" culture)? How are representations shaped by their particular medium, cultural and historical moment, marketplace or audience? How did e.g. Plato become an icon for the sexual revolution of the 1960's (as in Plato's Retreat) and a signifier for gay male sexuality? How is "gayness" signified--if at all--in representations where "homosexuality" is suppressed or denied? How do contemporary ideologies (such as the gay/straight binary)--shape the (re)imagining of historical actors? How are such themes handled by the popular press and other tributary media, such as blogs, television segments, or formal reviews?

Abstracts may address representations from the last two hundred years in any genre or medium, whether subcultural or mainstream: film, TV, advertising, novels, poetry, music, theater, the visual arts, documentaries, biography and scholarship, whether academic or popular. Obvious examples would be the many characterizations of Sappho's sexuality by novelists and scholars (e.g. Peter Green, Denys Page, Erica Jong); representations of Alexander prior to, and/or including, Oliver Stone's; dramatizations or reimaginings of Plato's Symposium. But we welcome submissions in less obvious areas as well. The only limitation is that the "gay" subjects must be figures who are generally thought to have had a historical existence (and as such left some trace in the historical record), and whose sexuality has become grist to the mill of contemporary gay identity-formation. (Treatments of legendary or mythological characters are not suitable.)

Abstracts, of 800 words or less, are due by February 1, 2006, and will be anonymously refereed. Send them to Ruby Blondell, Classics, Box 353110, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195 or
Email submission is preferred.

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