I had one of those funny moments today. I received several new books in the mail, and I looked at one with the title Ancient Sex and thought—wow, who sent me this? Then I realized, “Oh, yeah, that’s the next in our series with Ohio State UP!” Ok, it had been a long day. We sent it off for printing a few months ago, and I hadn’t seen the final design; the volume is very handsome indeed.
The contents are dynamite. Ruby Blondell and Kirk Ormand have done a wonderful job in bringing together a team of scholars to tackle ancient sexuality from new angles (I know, sounds like some kind of erotic football, I should police my metaphors better). Here’s the blurb:
Ancient Sex: New Essays presents groundbreaking work in a post-Foucauldian mode on sexuality, sexual identities, and gender identities in ancient Greece and Rome. Since the production of Foucault’s History of Sexuality, the field of classics has been caught in a recursive loop of argument regarding the existence—or lack thereof—of “sexuality” (particularly “homosexuality”) as a meaningful cultural concept for ancient Greece and Rome. Much of the argument concerning these issues, however, has failed to engage with the central argument of Foucault’s work, namely, the assertion that sexuality as we understand it is the correlative of a historically specific form of medical and legal discourse that emerged only in the late nineteenth century.
Rather than reopening old debates, Ancient Sex takes up Foucault’s call for discursive analysis and elucidates some of the ways that ancient Greek and Roman texts and visual arts articulate a culturally specific discourse about sexual matters. Each contributor presupposes that sexual and gendered identities are discursively produced, and teases out some of the ways that the Greeks and Romans spoke and thought about these issues. Comprising essays by emerging and established scholars, this volume emphasizes in particular: sexual discourses about women; the interaction between sexual identities and class status; gender as an unstable discursive category (even in antiquity); and the relationships between ancient and modern sexual categories.
We’re very proud of our latest addition to the series Classical Memories / Modern Identities, and are of course always looking for new submissions.