Seen on Aegeanet:
Ancient ³Unspeakable Vice² and Modern Pedagogy:
Talking about Homosexuality in Classical Antiquity in the 21st Century
2011 Annual Meeting of the APA, San Antonio, TX
Sponsored by the Lambda Classical Caucus. Organized by Konstantinos P.
Nikoloutsos (Berea College) and John P. Wood (University of
In E. M. Foster¹s 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 Plato¹s Symposium. When a student reaches a
passage on same-sex love, the instructor says in a flat toneless voice:
³Omit: a reference to the unspeakable vice of the Greeks.²
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
€ 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 nrabinow AThamilton.edu. All abstracts will be refereed
anonymously. Questions can be addressed to Konstantinos P. Nikoloutsos
at Konstantinos_Nikoloutsos AT berea.edu.