Lambda Classical Caucus
A Coalition of Queer Classicists and Allies
for Papers: Stifling Sexuality?
Although, at least before the later Empire, sexual behavior between individuals of the same biological sex is widely tolerated in Greek and Roman law, expressions of personal or social disapproval are by no means unusual. Setting to one side the often uncertain status of pederasty, we note that many authors react to same-sex sexual conduct with distaste or even disgust, and subliterate attitudes, emerging in papyri or Pompeian graffiti, exhibit similar levels of hostility. A representative example, perhaps, of unofficial attitudes is Clement of Alexandria, who writes in his Paedagogus at 3.3.23: “I admire the ancient legislators of the Romans: they detested effeminate conduct and, according to their law of justice, they deemed it worthy of the pit to engage in carnal intercourse as the female, against the law of nature.” Clement states that these laws were no longer enforced in Alexandria ca. 200 CE. How should we evaluate expressions of disdain like Clement’s?
How effective are they likely to have been, either in conjunction with legal restrictions or independent of them? It is clear, for instance, that social controls are often adopted or relied upon when law is deemed ineffective for one reason or another. An example is ancient attitudes towards rights of authorship, which were fairly vigilant even though copyright itself did not yet exist; outright plagiarism was not remotely so common as one might have anticipated, see Katharina Schickert, Der Schutz literarischer Urheberschaft im Rom der klassischen Antike (2005).
Should we posit something similar for same-sex behavior? How did social views interact with legal restrictions? Were social controls successful in deterring at least public displays of same-sex conduct? Did social controls modulate displays in certain respects, or lead to the expression of same-sex desire in oblique ways?
Papers are invited on the widest possible basis consistent with this general theme. They may examine norms (alone or in conjunction with law), or look more closely at particular authors or particular forms of sexual conduct, including not just sexual intercourse but also behavior or dress identified with sexual minorities. We also welcome papers that consider connections between these norms and expectations of gender performance conforming to roles for women or men. The general aim of the panel will be to focus closely on this topic of informal modes of control and resultant expression, and so to encourage the development of scholarship concerning them.
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 by Feb. 08, 2013 to Ruby Blondell (Blondell@uw.edu). Questions may be addressed to the panel organizers: firstname.lastname@example.org or Mark.Masterson@vuw.ac.nz.
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