CLSS-217 Greek Sexuality
Spring for 2016-2017
“I desire you!” What did these words mean to the ancient Greeks, both in terms of physical acts of sex and in terms of the emotion and sense of possession that are also part of the experience? What was the etiquette of desire and how did the rules of this game map onto other social structures, such as marriage, friendship, service to the state, or even warfare? When the ancient Greeks looked at the human body, what struck them as desirable? What struck them masculine or feminine—what we might call today gender codes? What were other social, religious and moral codes that informed the ancient Greek construction of sexuality? This course studies such questions in the belief that sexuality is an excellent window into ancient Greek culture—a means for understanding how the Greeks thought about themselves in relation to others. And we pursue these questions through readings and material objects drawn from all periods of Greek history, including the early Archaic poems of Homer, to the philosophic and theoretical meditations on desire of the Classical period, to the Hellenistic poetry and medical writings. We also study modern theory of sexuality and gender.
This course involves explicit material and language, and if you are uncomfortable with such content, this is not the course for you. We treat this material, however, in an academic manner, and students are expected to frame discussions and papers with appropriate scholarly discourse.