Sisters Doin’ for Themselves:
Women in Power in the Ancient World and the Ancient Imaginary
Among the most prominent anxieties expressed in sources from the ancient world are the fears of the wrath of the gods, of the destruction brought on by war, and of women in charge. Oppressed and controlled by the patriarchies of antiquity, women were not often allowed constitutional or legal roles in official affairs, but nevertheless found ways to exercise autonomy and accrue authority in the home, the community, and the state — and in some places and times, women wielded legitimate and public power.
This proposed panel will gather papers exploring both historical expressions of women’s authority and influence (both formal and informal) and the imagined incarnations of women’s power, as well as the intersections of gender, status, ethnos, ability, and power. Panelists might approach the issue through literature both historical and fictive, through art or architecture, through epigraphic evidence or papyri, and through archaeology or material culture. Potential topics include, but are not limited to, empresses and foreign queens; priestesses or philosophers; business proprietors and political campaigners; Hellenistic patronesses and local benefactors; the historiographical and literary figure of the dux femina; elegiac beloveds, hetairai, and meretrices; matronae and other powerful women heads of household; and the ways in which women in subsequent generations have used references to ancient women in power to support their own access to power.
Papers may address questions such as the following: what constitutes legitimate power? In what ways did women exercise influence and authority? What backlash did women face from these expressions of power? How did such women shape their societies and their worlds? What methods can we use to detect and understand women’s wielding of power in situations and contexts dominated by patriarchal oppression and silencing of women’s voices, actions, and experiences? How do status, ethnos, and ability interplay with gender in expressing power and in condemnations of those expressions?
Please send abstracts that follow the guidelines for individual abstracts (see the SCS website) by email to Ms. Julie Pechanek at firstname.lastname@example.org by March 1, 2019. Ensure that the abstracts are anonymous. The organizers will review all submissions anonymously and inform submitters of their decision by the end of March 2019, with enough time that those not chosen can participate in the SCS’ individual abstract submission process.