Lambda Classical Caucus
A Coalition of Queer Classicists and Allies


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Call for Papers
LCC Panel, APA Annual Meeting, San Antonio, TX, January 6-9, 2011

Ancient “Unspeakable Vice” and Modern Pedagogy:
Talking about Homosexuality in Classical Antiquity in the 21st Century Academy

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 All abstracts will be refereed anonymously. Questions can be addressed to Konstantinos P. Nikoloutsos.


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