Appel à contributions : Ancient “Unspeakable Vice” and Modern Pedagogy: Talking about Homosexuality in Classical Antiquity in the 21st Century Academy

Ancient “Unspeakable Vice” and Modern Pedagogy: Talking about Homosexuality
in Classical Antiquity in the 21st Century Academy

2011 Annual Meeting of the APA, San Antonio, TX

Sponsored by the Lambda Classical Caucus. Organized by Konstantinos P.
Nikoloutsos (Berea College) and John P. Wood (University of North Carolina
at Greensboro)

In E. M. Foster’s novel Maurice, published posthumously in 1971 and turned
into a film in 1987, two young men in early 20th century England, strongly
attracted to each other, attend a class at Cambridge University during
which they translate Plato’s Symposium. When a student reaches a passage on
same-sex love, the instructor says in a flat toneless voice: “Omit: a
reference to the unspeakable vice of the Greeks.”

Although a century later the picture has changed and ancient accounts of
homosexuality are more freely discussed in academia, prejudice against and
misinformation on the sexual practices of the Greeks and Romans continue to
persist. The 2011 LCC panel is soliciting papers that discuss the
challenges of teaching such texts at university level and provide feedback
on the responses they provoke among students. Questions that individual
papers may address include but are not limited to the following:

•    What pedagogical methods and interpretive tools (e.g., social
theory, feminist theory, queer theory, psychoanalytical theory) do we
employ in teaching what is nowadays considered to be nonnormative
•    What are the sources that we regularly use to demonstrate the
sexual plurality of the ancient world and increase awareness about the
nonuniversality of modern sexual practices? Are some texts less suitable
than others? What are the criteria for creating a textual canon, if any
(e.g., the content of the piece, the complexity of ideas expressed in it,
its author and genre, the familiarity of the students with it, or simply a
personal fondness of the instructor for a particular text)?
•    What are the benefits of exposing students to ancient texts that
are critical of same-sex desire?
•    How do we effectively teach the transition (in terms of both
similarity and difference) from Greek and Roman sexual ethics to that of
late antiquity described in the texts of the Church Fathers? How do we
incorporate Greek and Roman accounts in a syllabus on homosexuality
throughout the ages?
•    How can we draw on ancient attitudes to homosexuality to inform
modern debates on homophobia, xenophobia, racism, and same-sex marriage?

Abstracts are due by February 1, 2010. Please follow the guidelines for
abstracts in the Program Guide (one page in 11-point type; 1.25 to 1.5 line
spacing; top and right margins 0.8", bottom 1", left 1.2"; title in upper
right-hand corner in 12-point, Times New Roman font). Your name should not
be on the abstract, which should be an attachment in Word. Please do not
send abstracts to the panel organizers. Email them to Nancy Rabinowitz at All abstracts will be refereed anonymously.
Questions can be addressed to Konstantinos P. Nikoloutsos at

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