Navigation banner for Diotima (6k)

CC 342 - HOMOSEXUALITY IN ANTIQUITY


Prof. Thomas Hubbard -- University of Texas at Austin
Office: WAG 15
Hours: MWF 11:30-12:30
Phone: 471-5742


This course will combine the methods of social history and literary criticism to examine attitudes toward homosexuality in Greek and Roman culture, and the influence of the Greek ideal in later literary and artistic culture. By studying the very different social constructions placed upon homosexual activity in Greek, Roman, early Christian, Renaissance, and modern civilization, the course will contribute to the ongoing essentialist vs. constructionist debate in Gay/Lesbian Studies. To what extent was "homosexuality" recognized as such in ancient cultures? To what extent were those who practiced it considered to be apart from the mainstream of society, and to what extent is it legitimate to speak of "homophobia" in antiquity? To what extent was sexual object-choice in antiquity related to distinctions of class and education? Is it legitimate to view hostility to homosexuality as a form of class-hatred? Should the educational framework of Greek man-boy love be viewed as a form of anthropological initiation ceremony? All these questions are hotly debated in the scholarly literature and will be discussed during the course of the semester.

The foundational theoretical work for this course will be Michel Foucault's ground-breaking History of Sexuality, which analyzes sexual relations in terms of broader cultural systems of power and domination. After reading Foucault's work and that of one of his leading critics (Camille Paglia), we shall turn to a close examination of the literary, historical, and artistic evidence provided by the Greeks and Romans themselves. Students will be asked to evaluate the validity of various theoretical claims about ancient homosexuality by comparison with the actual evidence of primary texts.

This course is designed to fulfill the Substantial Writing Component requirement. Accordingly, students will be asked to write three papers (6-8 pages) on themes such as homophobia and humor, man-boy love, lesbian vs. male homoerotic poetry, the evolution of cultural concepts of "otherness." In addition to marshaling evidence from the ancient texts themselves, students will be invited to compare and contrast ancient attitudes with their own experience of modern social constructions of homosexuality.

The course grade will be based on the papers (20% each), class discussion (20%), and a final exam (20%). Students of all personal backgrounds are welcome in this course. The intention is not to proselytize, but to deal with this subject in a manner which is open-minded, sympathetic, and balanced.


Week

Topic

Reading Assignment


I (Jan. 17 & 19)

Essentialism vs. Constructionism

David Halperin, "One Hundred Years of Homosexuality"


II (Jan. 24 & 26)

Sexuality and Power

Michel Foucault, The Use of Pleasure, Intro., Parts I, IV, V


III (Jan. 31 & Feb. 2)

Eroticism and the Greek Eye

Camille Paglia, Sexual Personae, Chs. 1-4, and selections from Sex, Art, and American Culture


IV (Feb. 7 & 9)

Man-Boy Love and Initiation:The Evidence of Greek Myth

Bernard Sergent, selections from Homosexuality in Greek Myth; Pindar, Olympian 1


V (Feb. 14 & 16)

Sappho and Lesbian Sexuality

The Love Songs of Sappho (selections); other selected poems (to be distributed)


VI (Feb. 21 & 23)

Platonic Love (I)

Plato, Symposium


VII (Feb. 28 & Mar. 2)

Platonic Love (II)

Plato, Phaedrus; Demosthenes, Erotic Essay


VIII (Mar. 7 & 9)

The Rhetoric of Homophobia

Aeschines, Against Timarchus; Aristophanes, Knights, Clouds (pp. 125-31), Thesmophoriazusae (pp. 331-39)


IX (Mar. 21 & 23)

Hellenistic Aestheticism

Theocritus, Idylls 5 & 13; selected Hellenistic epigrams (to be distributed)


X (Mar. 28 & 30)

Homosexuality at Rome

Selected poems of Catullus and Tibullus (to be distributed); R. MacMullen, "Roman Attitudes to Greek Love," in Donaldson & Dynes (on PCL course reserve)


XIa (Apr. 4)

Homosexuality and the Military Ideal

Vergil, Aeneid 9


XIb (Apr. 6)

Nero and the Evolution of "Camp"

Petronius, Satyricon; Juvenal, Satires 2 & 9


XII (Apr. 11 & 13)

Homosexuality vs. Heterosexuality

Ps.-Lucian, Affairs of the Heart


XIII (Apr. 18 & 20)

Homosexuality and Early Christianity

John Boswell, Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality, Chs. 4-6


XIV (Apr. 25 & 27)

The Homosexual Renaissance

Christopher Marlowe, Dido (pp. 45-48); Edward II


XV (May 2 & 4)

The Classical Ideal and the Birth of Modern Gay Consciousness

Thomas Mann, Death in Venice


FINAL EXAM (May 10, 2-5PM)

This course is designed to fulfill the Substantial Writing Component requirement. Accordingly, students will be asked to write three papers (6-8 pages) on topics to be announced in class. In addition to marshalling evidence from the ancient texts themselves, students will be invited to compare and contrast ancient attitudes with their own experience of modern social constructions of homosexuality. The course grade will be based on the three papers (20% each), a final examination in essay format (20%), and class discussion, including attendance (20%). The papers will be graded on style, organization, quality of documentation and argument. Students of all personal backgrounds and viewpoints are welcome in this class; no one will be graded on their personal philosophy. The only requirement is that students have an open mind and a sense of mutual tolerance.


The due dates for the three papers will be as follows:

Feb. 28: Paper #1 due.
Mar. 28: Paper #2 due.
May 8: Paper #3 due (5:00 PM).


Required Texts:

www.stoa.org/diotima