Lambda Classical Caucus
A Coalition of Queer Classicists and Alliesn


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Call for Papers: Rethinking Homosexual Behavior in Antiquity
LCC Panel, American Philological Association, 2009 (Philadelphia)
Organizers: Mark Masterson (Victoria University Wellington, New Zealand) and Steven D. Smith (Hofstra University)

We are so certain we think we know what same-sex sex meant in antiquity. The pederastic honor/shame model, with its high-status imprimatur from Dover and Foucault, is something most scholars of Greek and Roman antiquity have accepted perhaps too comfortably for some time now. There is much evidence that is puzzling when viewed through this often reductive lens. Does the honor/shame model make much sense when we encounter Charmides’ crowd of erastai (Plato, Charmides 154C)? Or is it really helpful in Rome as a way to understand the possibilities for same-sex attraction among viri in the homosocial world of oratory? Or what of Martial Ep. 10.64, where the poet attributes a crude sexual question to the pen of Lucan? Moving forward, what are the implications when Augustine says at Confessions 3.1: “amare et amari dulce mihi erat, magis si et amantis corpore fruerer. venam igitur amicitiae coinquinabam sordibus concupiscentiae”? Not writing from within Classics, but relevant to the present discussion, Henning Bech (When Men Meet: Homosexuality and Modernity [1997]) has the following to say: “one should be on the lookout for a possible huge variety of meanings, reasons and pleasures associated with being penetrated: experimentation, prodigality, joy, submission, ecstasy, dirt, sociality, love, and so on” (256). This is equally true for both male and female homoeroticism.

Recent years have seen a number of contributions raise interesting questions. For example, James Davidson (“Dover, Foucault, and Greek Homosexuality: Penetration and the Truth of Sex”, Past and Present [2001]) has queried Dover and Foucault directly, arguing that their account of Greek literary and artistic evidence is partial at best, failing to appreciate the ironies and subtleties that lie beneath the obvious representations. The appearance of an English translation of Luc Brisson’s Le sexe incertain (Sexual Ambivalence: Androgyny and Hermaphroditism in Graeco-Roman Antiquity [2002]) gives voice to inter-sex subjects in the discourse of ancient sexuality. Meanwhile, Kathy L. Gaca (The Making of Fornication: Eros, Ethics, and Political Reform in Greek Philosophy and Early Christianity [2003]) has powerfully charted the development of an oppressive Christian sexual ethics, though the incompatibility of homoerotic relationships with this early Christian world-view still needs to be written into this history.

In this panel we would like to build on recent advances such as these in the area of ancient same-sex sexual behavior. We look for papers from all areas of classical studies (philology, art history, material culture, archaeology, etc.) and from any period that approach same-sex sexual behavior from a standpoint exclusive of domination and submission. Quite simply: what other approaches are possible for understanding same-sex sexual (male or female) behavior in antiquity and what results might these approaches generate? If short of a thoroughgoing critique of the dominance/submission model, papers should offer interpretations that are more nuanced in their treatment of the evidence. We welcome papers of a more theoretical nature, papers concerned specifically with ancient evidence, and, of course, papers combining both approaches.

Please e-mail abstracts of no more than one page in length, in the form of an attachment, to Mark Masterson ( Feel free to e-mail any inquiries also. Please follow the format for individual abstract submissions detailed in the Program Guide. Deadline for abstract submissions is Friday, February 8, 2008.

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