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Introduction: Queering Classics

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 September 2020

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

BRINGING TOGETHER GENDER ANALYSIS AND CLASSICS

This volume was inspired by the recognition of two different yet connected needs that we found through our work in classics and in gender studies. In 2015, the Women's Network (WN) of the Classical Association of Canada (CAC) sponsored two panels at the CAC annual meeting, hosted by the University of Toronto. The topic, chosen by the WN membership, was ‘Gender B(l) ending in Greek and Roman Culture and Society’ and the panels consisted of seven papers – including both Agri's and Begum-Lees’ contributions in this volume. The interest in and attendance at these panels indicated a need for analyses of the ancient world that do not assume a cisnormative, masculinist and largely heterosexual lens in order to better understand the various social and political roles occupied by people who did not seem to identify as cisgender men. From gender studies, we were driven by the need for a clear history of gender diversity that reveals both the existence and successes of gender-diverse and transgender people long before our current era's emerging recognition. The authors of the essays in this volume develop these concerns in their explorations of gender diversity, sexual diversity and the politics of the power of representation in the ancient world.

The discipline of classics has a long scholarly tradition which, for the bulk of its history, has been a history of men. With the exception of a few early works on women in the ancient world, women were treated largely as footnotes or extensions of the men to whom they were attached, if they were mentioned at all. The rise of the second-wave feminist movement of the 1960s and 1970s – a movement focused on labour rights, family structure, sexuality and identity politics – had a broad and significant impact on academic work. Not only did scholars increasingly focus on studying women's history, women and culture, and the socio-politics of sex and sexuality, but the discipline of women's studies was developed as a sustained critical response to this new focus and became increasingly integral to understanding any aspect of academic enquiry.

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Publisher: Edinburgh University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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