Annual Meeting, San Antonio, TX, January 6-9, 2011
Vice” and Modern Pedagogy:
Talking about Homosexuality in Classical Antiquity in the 21st Century
Organizers: Konstantinos P. Nikoloutsos (Berea College) and John P. Wood
(University of North Carolina at Greensboro)
In E. M. Foster’s novel Maurice, published posthumously in 1971
and turned into a film in 1987, two young men in early 20th century England,
strongly attracted to each other, attend a class at Cambridge University
during which they translate Plato’s Symposium. When a student reaches
a passage on same-sex love, the instructor says in a flat toneless voice:
“Omit: a reference to the unspeakable vice of the Greeks.”
Although a century later the picture has changed and ancient accounts
of homosexuality are more freely discussed in academia, prejudice against
and misinformation on the sexual practices of the Greeks and Romans continue
to persist. The 2011 LCC panel is soliciting papers that discuss the challenges
of teaching such texts at university level and provide feedback on the
responses they provoke among students. Questions that individual papers
may address include but are not limited to the following:
• What pedagogical methods and interpretive tools (e.g., social
theory, feminist theory, queer theory, psychoanalytical theory) do we
employ in teaching what is nowadays considered to be nonnormative sexuality?
• What are the sources that we regularly use to demonstrate the
sexual plurality of the ancient world and increase awareness about the
nonuniversality of modern sexual practices? Are some texts less suitable
than others? What are the criteria for creating a textual canon, if any
(e.g., the content of the piece, the complexity of ideas expressed in
it, its author and genre, the familiarity of the students with it, or
simply a personal fondness of the instructor for a particular text)?
• What are the benefits of exposing students to ancient texts that
are critical of same-sex desire?
• How do we effectively teach the transition (in terms of both similarity
and difference) from Greek and Roman sexual ethics to that of late antiquity
described in the texts of the Church Fathers? How do we incorporate Greek
and Roman accounts in a syllabus on homosexuality throughout the ages?
• How can we draw on ancient attitudes to homosexuality to inform
modern debates on homophobia, xenophobia, racism, and same-sex marriage?
Abstracts of one page in length are due by February 1, 2010. Please do
not send abstracts to the panel organizers. Email them to Nancy Rabinowitz
at firstname.lastname@example.org. All abstracts will be refereed anonymously.
Questions can be addressed to Konstantinos