ElAnt v1n6 - Women and Slaves in Classical Culture, A.P.A./A.I.A

Volume 1, Number 6
November 1993




This panel will explore the continuities and discontinuities between two marginalized groups in classical antiquity: women and slaves. Our aim is to bring together discussions of both the social realities and the cultural representations of these two groups in response to the growing recognition among scholars that it is limiting and reductive to consider gender and status in isolation from one another. Work by classicists on women, the family, and labor and on Greek and Roman sexuality has begun to pursue the intersection of gender and status and to interrogate the association of women and slaves registered in the ancient sources. Historical and theoretical work on race and gender in other fields, especially in postcolonial studies, offers fruitful and challenging suggestions for the study of "otherness" in ancient Greece and Rome. Questions that might be addressed include: Can ancient women and ancient slaves be usefully studied as classes in comparable terms? How similar was the legal status of these two groups in various classical societies? What kinds of contacts between women and slaves were fostered by social institutions such as the family and the household? In what terms was the "otherness" of women and slaves conceptualized? Were slavery and femaleness seen as equally natural states? Was one of these conditions considered more fully based in the body than the other or more capable of being remedied? When were the female slaves who embodied both categories seen primarily as women and when primarily as slaves? How do notions of gender and slavery intersect in Greek and Roman constructions of other cultures, such as the Egyptians or the Persians? How do mythology and literature depict the relationships between free women and slave women? How do tropes invoolving women and slaves, such as the clever slave and the woman on top in ancient comedy, relate to one another? Papers that bring contemporary theory to bear on ancient material are especially encouraged.

The deadline for the submission of abstracts is January 15, 1994. Questions and abstracts can be addressed to either of the panel's organizers:

Sandra Joshel, 
New England Conservatory, 
290 Huntington Avenue, 
MA 02115, 
617-262-1120 x 456 or 617-739-2651, 
FAX: 617-262-0500

Sheila Murnaghan, 
Dept. of Classical Studies, 
720 Williams Hall, 
The University of Pennsylvania, 
PA 19104-6305, 
215-898-7425 or 215-649-1349, 
FAX: 215-898-0933,

Potential panelists may want to consult:

Hazel Carby, "Slave and Mistress," in Reconstructing Womanhood (New York, 1987), 20-39.

Amy Richlin, "Not Before Homosexuality," Journal of the History of Sexuality 3.4 (April, 1993), 523-573 (with bibliography).

Elizabeth Spelman, "Who's Who in the Polis," in Inessential Woman (Boston, 1988), 37-56.

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, "Can the Subaltern Speak?" in Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture, ed. Cary Nelson and Lawrence Grossberg (Urbana, 1988), 271-313.

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, In Other Worlds (New York, 1987).

G.E.M. de Ste. Croix, The Class Struggle in the Ancient World (Ithaca, 1981), 98-103.

Pierre Vidal-Naquet, "Slavery and the Rule of Women in Tradition, Myth, and Utopia," in The Black Hunter (Baltimore, 1986), 205-223.

Electronic Antiquity Vol. 1 Issue 6 - November 1993
edited by Peter Toohey and Ian Worthington
ISSN 1320-3606

by Kaavya Giridhar