Classical bodies

Posted on April 30, 2010


Classical studies are a rich source of potential material, and many students have some level of comfort with these societies. So I use this material to add to the previous contrast of archaeology/art history an additional dimension, documentary history. David Halperin’s article “Why is Diotima a Woman?” appears on many reading lists in history of sex and gender, and is an especially challenging article for students, but one where they find their voices in debating how they would answer this question.

Osborne’s article allows us to talk about iconography, and also bring up questions of representation: to what extent do images reveal the normative understandings of a society?

Finally, Suzanne Spencer-Wood provides a strong summary of a rich body of archaeology that incorporates studies of the layout of houses in Athens and their relationship to women’s/men’s space, circulation and power. I am able to link this article back to the Egyptian case by Lynn Meskell and start students on a process of linking across sections of the course that will remain important for them.

Articles discussed by individual student panels:

Halperin, David M. 1990: Why is Diotima a Woman? Platonic Eros and the Figuration of Gender. In Before Sexuality: The Construction of Erotic Experience in the Ancient Greek World, edited by David Halperin, John J. Winkler, and Froma I. Zeitlin, pp. 257-308. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Osborne, Robin 1996: Desiring Women on Athenian Pottery. In Sexuality in Ancient Art, edited by Natalie Kampen, pp. 65-80. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Spencer-Wood, S. 2006: “Feminist Gender Research in Classical Archaeology”. Pp. 295-329 in Handbook of Gender in Archaeology, Sarah Nelson, ed. Lanham, MD: AltaMira.