Lambda Classical Caucus
A Coalition of Queer Classicists and Allies


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Call for Papers: Getting What You Want: Queering Ancient Courtship
LCC Panel,
2012 Annual Meeting of the APA: Philadelphia, PA

Organizers: H. Christian Blood (University of California at Santa Cruz) and John P. Wood (University of North Carolina at Greensboro)

It has long been supposed that understanding same-sex acts and identities would shed light on Greco-Roman sex, but less attention has been given to the queer content and possibilities that anticipate the act. Understood as the plurality of behaviors, conventions, and signifiers mobilized to bring people together, courtship had value beyond erotic situations for forging alliances, conserving property, attaining upward mobility—and for getting what you want. Courtship, then, would seem inherently conservative, serving and preserving individuals as well as social entities. Yet, for every Kallirhoe, there is a Pergamine Boy, and for every Orpheus and Eurydice, there is Socrates and Alcibiades. Ancient texts lampoon the established social institution of courtship, and this panel seeks to explore how disruptive, subversive, and comedic to established protocol these representations may have been.

Following David Halperin’s formulations, we understand “queer” broadly: as a strategic practice and practical strategy that refutes heteronormative logic, as a privileged site for the criticism and analysis of cultural discourses, which, lacking an essence of its own, acquires meaning from its oppositional relation to the norm (1995, 60-62).Questions that individual papers might address include but are not limited to the following:

• What disciplinary and interpretive tools (e.g., archaeology, anthropology, feminist theory, queer theory, psychoanalysis, religious studies, etc.) are well-suited to queering courtship?
• How did traditions of courtship differ for same-sex couples, or in what ways did same-sex couples insert themselves into heterosexual courtship behaviors from which they were excluded?
• What new light might queer approaches shed on familiar but non-normative heterosexual configurations—such as Jocasta and Oedipus, Phaedra and Hippolytus, or Lucius and the Corinthian Matrona?
• What are the public and private parameters of courtship, and how are they interrelated?
• What are the power dynamics of same-sex courtship? Is it more egalitarian than its heterosexual counterpart?
• Can a queering of courtship recuperate problematic female figures from antiquity, such as
• Clodia? Given the overall suspicion of female erotic agency, how can we recover the evidence for, and significance of, courtship by women, whether of other women or of men?
• How might queer perspectives illuminate heterosexual narratives, such as Greek Romance?
• How do courtship stories reflect cultural norms as they move, e.g. East to West, pastoral to urban?
• What are the challenges, and benefits, of incorporating queer approaches in the classroom?
• In the end, how can we tell whether, and how, both parties get what they want?

Submissions should be anonymous, and otherwise adhere to APA guidelines for the formatting of abstracts. Please do not send abstracts to panel organizers; e-mail them as word documents to Mary-Kay Gamel ( Questions may be addressed to the panel organizers or

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