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Ancient Gender Studies in the UK

Helen King

Located both geographically and conceptually between the USA and Continental Europe, UK Classics has at times been strongly influenced or revived by approaches coming from parts of Europe: e.g. Germany (philology), France (structuralism). But the poor British record on modern language means that we tend to look toward the USA more.

In terms of pedagogy, in 2011 university educators met in London to discuss the state of play for Gender Studies in Antiquity. They noted that "gender" seemed to be ousting "women" from the curriculum (http://www.rhul.ac.uk/classics/cucd/Bulletin2011.pdf). The publication dates of UK-edited collections on "women in antiquity" show a peak in interst in "women" in the mid-1990s (Cameron and Kuhrt, 1983; Archer et al, 1994; Hawley and Levick, 1995; McAuslan and Walcot's collection of essays from Greece and Rome, 1996), with an attempt to shift the agenda towards "gender" at the end of this period (Wyke, Parchments of Gender, 1998, and Gender and the Body in the Ancient Mediterranean, 1998, including Sharrock's "Re[ge]ndering Gender(ed) Studies"). But in teaching contexts, it looks as if gender is now "ousting" women; are there dangers in this trend? Other than these two collections, gender has led to far fewer publications; the two collections on masculinity edited by Foxhall came out in the same year as Wyke's gender collections, 1998. What has happened to gender since that date, and how will Foxhall's new monograph on gender, due out in July 2013, change the terms of the debate?

Even the chapter headings of Wyke's collections raise the question of whether, in the UK, "gender" simply means "women". My paper will consider what characterizes UK gender studies; is there a greater focus on daily life and material culture (with women scholars studying "the home", men "the street"), in comparison with a more literary focus outside the UK? What theoretical approaches underpin the uses of these different sources? Is this part of a more practical Anglophone approach, opposed to a more theoretical approach in continental Europe? If so, how can the two approaches be brought together in collaboration?

Session/Panel Title

EuGeStA [European Gender Studies in Antiquity] Workshop

Session/Paper Number

25.4

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