Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Hostname: page-component-77c89778f8-m8s7h Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-07-23T01:43:52.043Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

3 - Birth by Hammer: Pandora and the Construction of Bodies

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 September 2020

Allison Surtees
Affiliation:
University of Winnipeg, Canada
Jennifer Dyer
Affiliation:
Memorial University of Newfoundland
Get access

Summary

If gender, as Judith Butler (1993) has persuasively argued, is a performance played out with and through the body, the study of gender in the ancient world is, in important respects, dependent upon the bodies that have left their traces in the historical record. That this record is partial, biased and prone to the erasure of non-normative forms should come as no surprise. Nevertheless, the broad diversity of ancient bodies to which we still have access is, as the contributions to this volume make clear, something to celebrate. The specific form of celebration that I pursue here does not seek to retrieve previously disregarded figures from the margins of our historical record, but rather to recover, and reflect on, the often-unacknowledged corporeal diversity of ancient representations of Pandora, the ‘first woman’ whose body has shaped our modern notions of ancient gender for over a century. The complicated picture of Pandora that emerges serves not only as a prompt to revisit other apparent exemplars of ‘traditional’ ancient gender structures, but also as a bridge between the diversity of ancient gendered bodies and those we construct in our own contemporary societies.

First, a brief explanation of my approach. Building on the insights of her earlier work (Holmes 2012) on the fertile intersection of ancient and modern in twentieth-and twenty-first-century gender studies, Brooke Holmes has recently called on classicists, particularly those interested in questions of sex and gender, to be more explicit about the contemporary concerns that motivate our engagement with ancient models of (what we call) gender and sexuality (Holmes 2019). Such a foregrounding of scholarly motivations helps to more overtly situate our engagement with the past in the concerns of the present, a gesture that has been something of a taboo amongst classicists for some time – even if the influence of contemporary society is no less powerful a force in academic endeavour now than it was a century ago, when scholars unabashedly viewed ancient texts through the filter of modern society. The interpretive spirit that I follow here is, quite emphatically and I believe productively, motivated by concerns of contemporary society, specifically by the increasing prominence of trans studies, and the transgender movement more broadly, in political and intellectual debates, particularly in the United States.

Type
Chapter
Information
Publisher: Edinburgh University Press
Print publication year: 2020

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×