The Women’s Classical Committee UK invites submissions for this year’s panel proposal for the Classical Association Annual Conference 2020 (Swansea University, 17-20 April).
Storying Gendered Emotions in Classical Antiquity
Organised by Maria Gerolemou (Exeter) and Irene Salvo (Göttingen)
Although studies on emotion in ancient Greek and Roman cultures are currently thriving, gender differences in emotional experience and expression have been comparatively little investigated. This panel aspires to invite further reflections on the topic. Discussion will focus on (but it is not limited to) the following interrelated themes and aspects:
1. Gender difference a) Gender-specific patterns of emotions: are there any stereotypical emotions that are considered socially acceptable for females and males? b) The way women and men experience and express emotions; e.g. verbal and non-verbal expression of emotion; different frequency and intensity of emotional expression.
2. Embodied narratives c) Storying emotion: Narratives that construct, thus shape their ‘consumer’s’ gendered emotional expression, or undo it. d) Forms of narratives that are conveyed through images, objects, monuments, or places, and that evoke a gendered emotional and embodied experience.
3. Queer readings e) Intersectional readings of emotional lives; emotions are considered to be agentic forces which are subject to various factors such as age, race, sexuality, and class; hence, whilst patriarchal culture can impedes agency, class as well seems to play a role in how members of the same gender tend to experience emotion (see e.g. slave women). f) Queering historiographical narratives on gender and emotion traditionally interpreted mainly as evidence of political or military history.
We warmly encourage Classicists at any career stage and of any gender to submit abstract proposals for 20-minute papers. Please send an anonymous abstract (300 words maximum) no later than Wednesday the 14th of August 2019 to womensclassicalcommittee at gmail.com.
We are very excited to be able to share that the work of the WCC UK and its members will be well represented at next April’s meeting of the CA/FIEC. Here’s a sneak peek of what’s on the programme from us…
Lexicon and letters: Challenges in studying same-sex desire – a panel in collaboration with the Lambda Classical Caucus US
How to recognize a kinaidos when you see one: Desire and the decipherment of papyri from Roman Egypt – Tom Sapsford (New York University)
What’s “tribadic” lust? Deconstructing ancient and modern topoi about the tribas – Sandra Boehringer (Université de Strasbourg)
Nikephoros Ouranos’ letters: epistolarity, same-sex desire, and Byzantine reception – Mark Masterson (Victoria University of Wellington)
Winckelmann’s love letters: epistolarity, sexuality, and classical reception – Katherine Harloe (University of Reading)
Queer Classics, Queer Reception: a Roundtable – in collaboration with the Lambda Classical Caucus US
A roundtable on non-binary sexual identities and LGBT+ Classical reception; participants include Mark Masterson (Victoria University of Wellington), Irene Salvo (University of Goettingen), Jennifer Ingleheart (Durham University), Christine Plastow (Open University) and Benjamin Greet (University of Reading).
Ancient Women: Methodology and Inclusivity
Narratology, Gender and Immorality. From Sulpicia 3.9 and 13 to Ovid’s Heroides 4 – Jacqueline Fabre-Serris (University Charles-de-Gaulle – Lille 3)
Cinnamon and old urine: odour therapies, perfumes, and the female body in the Roman world – Thea Lawrence (University of Nottingham)
Gendered space in Republican Rome: limits and assumptions – Sophie Chavarria (University of Kent)
Sapphic Sisterhood: Classics and the origins of modern lesbian culture – Mara Gold (University of Oxford)
#WCCWiki Editing Session with Training, on Friday 5th July in the afternoon. Do you want to know more about Wikipedia editing? Would you like to see better representation of women classicists (broadly conceived) on Wikipedia? Then please join us for this free training and editing event. All welcome, and absolutely no experience of Wikipedia editing necessary! Please bring a laptop.
Poster: The Representation of Women in Ancient History and Classics– with Sarah E. Bond (University of Iowa)
This poster illuminates how the representation of women in ancient history and classics has been dramatically advanced since 2016 through two digital humanities initiatives. The Women’s Classical Committee has developed #WCCWiki, a drive to reverse the absence of women classicists on English-language Wikipedia. Sarah Bond and Victoria Leonard have created the Women of Ancient History (WOAH) initiative to increase the visibility of women ancient historians.
After last week’s fantastic AGM, we are delighted that the Women’s Classical Committee UK will have a very strong presence at this week’s Classical Association conference. If you’d like to catch up with us, here’s what’s going on…
Thursday 27th April
8.30pm – social event, K-Bar, Keynes College. Coordinator – Victoria Leonard. Turn up, have a drink or a smoothie, and chat to like-minded classicists.
Friday 28th April
9am-11am – Women and Classics: The Female in Classical Scholarship, WCC UK organised panel, Lecture Theatre 1
Chair: Helen King
P. Kolovou – Penelope: A theoretician somehow from the loom to the laptop
T. Lawrence – Perfumes of Venus and jars of urine: Odour and the female body in Roman elegy and satire
D. Grzesik – The role of women benefactresses in Delphic society
S. Borowski – Warrior women in ancient heroic epic
Ever looked at Wikipedia and shuddered at how your subject area is covered? Or do you edit it and try to improve what is the largest and most popular general reference work on the internet? The Women’s Classical Committee, fed up with the paucity and poor quality of pages on notable female classical scholars and archaeologists, have started regular editing sessions to fix this. Since its inception this January the #WCCWiki group have written 23 biographies, improved several others – and had five featured on the front page of Wikipedia! If you’d like to find out what we’re about, or join in with some editing, please do drop into our session, and read more about the project.
Saturday 29th April
2.30pm-4.30pm – Women and Classics: Foremothers on the Frontline, WCC UK organised panel, Lecture Theatre 1
Chair: Liz Gloyn
M. Umachandran – Iris Murdoch’s untimely encounter with Agamemnon
B. Goff – Margaret Nevison
V. Leonard – #SeeItBeIt: Female professors in UK Higher Education
Art courtesy of Ellie Mackin
Please also keep an eye out for members of the WCC UK sporting ‘Ask Me About The WCC’ badges, designed and produced by our new disability liaison Ellie Mackin. We are delighted that the CA will be including membership form for the WCC UK in conference attendee packs this year, and hope that our membership will grow from our profile at the conference. If you’re reading this post, will not be at the CA and would like to join, our membership form is also available online.
It’s great when a conference keynote sets the tone for the event as a whole. Alison Wylie (Washington) achieved this with her opening address to Feminism and Classics 7: Visions, held in Seattle in May. In exploring ‘What knowers know well: why feminism matters to archaeology’ she made a strong case for feminist approaches to gender archaeology and the study of early societies. From her perspective, non-feminist approaches were the ones that should be challenged, especially when they were importing assumptions about the domestic arrangements of early societies, as she demonstrated with textbook illustrations in which men were the focus and women domestic drudges in the background – one of many ways in which the conference theme would emerge in papers over the coming days. Combining humour, self-reflection and a combative stance, Alison Wylie exemplified a powerful mixture of knowledge and practice, leaving a large audience of conference attendees and the wider Seattle public better informed about both early societies and feminist approaches to studying them.
Feminism and Classics is a well-established conference that now attracts around 200 delegates for three days of papers, panel sessions, and plenary lectures; this, the seventh meeting, was held at the University of Washington in Seattle. Its feminist heritage is evident in the programming, with academic research papers scheduled alongside consideration of academic practice and the politics of campus life, and frequent intersections between theory and practice. Attendees ranged from the doyennes of feminism in Classics to a new generation of engaged and activist graduate students, all eager to learn from each other and happy to share knowledge and experiences. This was a very friendly conference.
The first panel session I attended, ‘Revealing gendered violence in the academy’, opened discussion of international concerns about women’s experiences on campus. After an introduction from panel organiser, Allison Surtees (Winnipeg), Judith Hallett (University of Maryland, College Park) and Fiona McHardy (Roehampton) each presented an assessment of the current climate for women (spoiler: depressing by and large, but we’re working on fixing it). Fiona drew on research carried out with her colleague Susan Deacy, and also presented an analysis of WCC UK’s own survey of the climate for women working in Classics in UK academia. There were some interesting differences both in the problems faced and attempts to respond to them from the USA and UK.
Fiona’s presentation of worries about the dangers of unchecked ‘lad culture’ on the UK campus was particularly compelling; respondent Maxine Lewis (Auckland) brought in experiences from New Zealand, and suggested strategies for tackling hostile climates. Many audience members had much to contribute, both underlining points made by the speakers and challenging them on what constituted ‘gendered violence’ – do micro-aggressions count, for example? For the rest of the conference, UK delegates such as myself found ourselves explaining UK ‘lad culture’ to intrigued Americans; sadly, since the conference, it is the fraternity culture of US the campus that has been in the spotlight. As this first panel showed, the distinctive cultures of academia around the world, and the different student and faculty populations in terms of gender, class and ethnicity, mean that experiences vary from campus to campus and country to country, although we may diagnose the underlying causes to be similar.
The next session, ‘See and be seen’, was a highlight in the way its novel structure engaged all attendees as participants and brought the ‘Visions’ theme to life through discussions of our lived experiences. Organisers Sarah Blake (York University) and Jody Valentine (Scripps College) began by showing an episode of John Berger’s 1972 TV series Ways of Seeing, in which he first displayed the male gaze in action, demonstrating it through camera work, and then discussed it with a panel of women including feminist academics. After this they opened a discussion, inviting the audience to come up and tag the starting panel members, taking their place on stage and sharing their experiences of working under the male gaze. If perhaps we might have gone more deeply into a critique of Berger’s depiction (and instantiation of it), the sharing of experiences felt empowering, almost a return to 1970s practices of consciousness-raising.
The Visions theme also attracted some wonderful explorations of the continuing but changing depiction of classical women in art, theatre and especially film. Rhiannon Easterbrook (Bristol) explored the depiction of Galatea in WS Gilbert’s Pygmalion and Galatea, a theme echoed by Matthew Fox (Glasgow), who explored women’s encounters with classical sculpture in 19th-century fiction. Teaching and being taught in classical sculpture cast galleries will never be the same for me after the clips he showed from Leslie Howard’s 1941 Pimpernel Smith.
There was also a place for straightforward classical scholarship with a feminist stance. Panels ranged over genres from Greek drama, Latin poetry (impossible not to address Ovid) and philosophical prose, periods from archaic Greece through Imperial Rome and receptions from late antiquity to contemporary pop culture, with plenty of material culture along the way.
The integration of discussions of classical texts and scholarship and the social and political context in which that scholarship takes place was informative and inspiring. Sexual violence is a charged topic in our texts and on our campuses. Kathy Gaca (Vanderbilt) has long interrogated the sexual violence within Homeric epic, and here turned her attention to ‘Pretty women as lookers’; she explored the performative and status-generating elements of sexual abuse in war-time, and drew powerful comparisons between militaristic sexual predation and values and hierarchies on campus. Helen Morales (UCSB) argued for the careful deconstruction of metaphorical language in our assessment of gendered language and behaviour, questioning where the boundary between violence and its metaphors lies, and arguing for a scepticism with a British tinge whenever there was a risk of conflating violence and its metaphors.
Outside the formal sessions, the discussion did not stop. With our WCC UK hats on we met committee members from the US WCC and also the team from Eugesta, the pan-European network for gender studies in antiquity. Both those groups generously provided insights from their own experiences which will help us to develop the WCC UK. In turn, we were able to discuss further the data from our survey; Fiona’s presentation made a real impact and was much discussed throughout the conference.
I have rarely gained so much insight and inspiration from a conference on this scale; the only frustration was the impossibility of seeing all the papers and the inevitable clashes that meant I missed talks from Nancy Rabinowitz and others. The organisers had taken some risks in experimenting with topics and formats beyond the standard conference panel. This use of novel formats, including the associated ‘Just One Look’ exhibition of book arts on the theme of women and vision, contributed to the success of the conference and the interesting discussions generated. I look forward to the next Feminism and Classics, and hope that one day we will be able to bring the conference to the UK.
WCC UK members who presented at the conference, along with their paper titles:
Carol Atack (Warwick): ‘Feminist Approaches to the Performance of Status and Gender in Xenophon’s Political Thought’
Rhiannon Easterbrook (Bristol): ‘Galatea from the Inside’
Chris Mowat (Newcastle): ‘First Person, Second Sight: the Sibyl, Apollo, and feminine prophecy in the ancient world’
Irene Salvo (Göttingen): ‘Visions of Gender from the Athenian Curse Tablets’
Call for Papers: WCC UK Panel at the Classical Association Annual Conference 26-29 April 2017
Classics and Women: Ancient and Modern
Deadline for Abstracts: 2nd August 2016
The WCC UK invites submissions for our inaugural panel at the CA. Our aim is to demonstrate how much there is to gain from recognising historical, conscious, and unconscious bias in the ancient classical world (broadly defined) and in studies of the ancient world. The panel seeks to showcase recent academic work from a range of perspectives, underscoring the benefits of embracing heterogeneity in the study of Classics. We welcome in particular papers that seek to diversify Classics in approach, findings, or methodology.
We invite submissions that focus on (but are not limited to) the following: gender and the non-human, resistances to hierarchy, new approaches to ancient and modern pedagogy, women in war, gendered bodies, women in material culture/archaeology, gendered economies, and pioneering women in classics, ancient history and archaeology. We warmly encourage Classicists at any career stage and of any gender to submit abstracts.
Please send anonymous abstracts of no more than 200 words to either firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com by Tuesday August 2nd 2016.
Classicists with an interest in philosophy may be interested in the Society for Women in Philosophy’s upcoming conference: “Precarity: Passion, Rage, Reason”. You can find more details and the call for papers here.