for Papers: QUEER ICONS FROM GREECE AND ROME
LCC Panel, American Philological Association, January 4-7, 2007
Organizer: Ruby Blondell (email@example.com)
Historical figures from ancient Greece and Rome--such as Sappho, Plato,
Alexander, Elagabalus and Hadrian--have played a vital part in the construction
of modern queer identities, while the politics of sexuality has in turn
influenced both the study of such figures and their representation in
creative and scholarly works. More recently, the controversies surrounding
Oliver Stone's movie Alexander have brought such issues into a larger
and more public arena. The film supposedly broke new ground in its representation
of an openly gay heroic protagonist, thereby prompting threatened lawsuits
from the self-appointed custodians of Hellenic history; when the film
was lambasted by critics (one called it "a festival of risible wiggery")
and left audiences cold, Stone blamed its failure on its frankness about
Alexander's relationship with Hephaistion, and responded by eliminating
the offending moments for the DVD.
Inspired by this controversy, our panel will focus on contemporary appropriations
and exploitations of iconically gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered
figures from ancient Greek and Roman history. How have such figures been
used to construct, celebrate and/or deny contemporary queer identities?
How have these constructions played back into scholarship and/or popular
"historical" or fictional representations? How has these characters'
queerness been represented--or suppressed--in diverse media (film vs.
TV vs. novels, "popular" vs "high" culture)? How are
representations shaped by their particular medium, cultural and historical
moment, marketplace or audience? How did e.g. Plato become an icon for
the sexual revolution of the 1960's (as in Plato's Retreat) and a signifier
for gay male sexuality? How is "gayness" signified--if at all--in
representations where "homosexuality" is suppressed or denied?
How do contemporary ideologies (such as the gay/straight binary)--shape
the (re)imagining of historical actors? How are such themes handled by
the popular press and other tributary media, such as blogs, television
segments, or formal reviews?
Abstracts may address representations from the last two hundred years
in any genre or medium, whether subcultural or mainstream: film, TV, advertising,
novels, poetry, music, theater, the visual arts, documentaries, biography
and scholarship, whether academic or popular. Obvious examples would be
the many characterizations of Sappho's sexuality by novelists and scholars
(e.g. Peter Green, Denys Page, Erica Jong); representations of Alexander
prior to, and/or including, Oliver Stone's; dramatizations or reimaginings
of Plato's Symposium. But we welcome submissions in less obvious areas
as well. The only limitation is that the "gay" subjects must
be figures who are generally thought to have had a historical existence
(and as such left some trace in the historical record), and whose sexuality
has become grist to the mill of contemporary gay identity-formation. (Treatments
of legendary or mythological characters are not suitable.)
Abstracts, of 800 words or less, are due by February 1, 2006, and will
be anonymously refereed. Send them to Ruby Blondell, Classics, Box 353110,
University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Email submission is preferred.