CLA 3930: Sex and Gender In Classical Antiquity

Instructors: Dr. Kostas Kapparis and Dr. Jennifer Rea

Course Goals:  This course will investigate the ways in which ancient authors use the power dynamics behind Roman and Greek conceptions of gender and sexuality to make statements about how sexual mores and customs were perceived in antiquity and how this perception influences our modern understanding of male and female roles.  In particular, through a systematic study of how the subjects of literature, politics, law, religion and medicine conceptualized and defined the terms masculine and feminine, this course will investigate how ancient Greek and Roman cultures engaged in a discourse on sex and gender roles in their societies.  Comparisons with the past and practices in other societies will serve as reference points in order to allow the modern student to re-evaluate his/her own perceptions and views of these matters.

Course Readings:
McClure, Laura (ed.) Sexuality and Gender in the Ancient World.
Brantenberg, Gerd Egalia’s Daughters: A Satire of the Sexes.
Selections from: Homer’s Iliad, Vergil’s Aeneid, Sophocles’ Antigone, Plato’s Symposium, Aristophanes’ Thesmophoriazousai, Sappho (selected poems), Aeschines’ Against Timarchos, Cicero’s Pro Caelio and Kostas Tachtsis’ The Third Wedding.

Three In-class Examinations
Two In-class "Minute" Papers

(This syllabus is a work in progress and is subject to some changes before the start of the semester)

Course Units:
1. Sex and Gender within Cultural and Social Rites of Passage
     Female initiation into adult life
     Male initiation into adult life
     Reinforcing gender roles

2. Men Conforming to the Stereotype
    Constraints on male behavior
    Legal duties and obligations for men
    Greek kyrios and Roman paterfamilias

3. Women Conforming to the Stereotype
    Childbirth and motherhood
    Women and Religion

4. Transgressing the Gender Lines: Manly Women, Girly Men
    Amazons in Greek Myth
    Women in Greek Tragedy
    Widows in Athenian Law
    Shaving and Abstaining from the Gym
    Suetonius and feminine trends of Roman emperors
    Homophobic Aristophanes

5. Breaking the Rules: Courtesans and Adulterers
    The adulteress in Greece and Rome
    The ‘obedient’ wife of Isomachos
    The ‘good’ courtesan of New Comedy

6. Classical and Contemporary Views on Sex and Gender
    Redefining sex roles
    Finding the female voice
    Gender as an inclusive category