Classics in Queer Time

  • November 9-10, 2017
  • Princeton University

This workshop will put classical reception studies in dialogue with recent work on queer temporality, exploring how queer notions of time and history that contest or complicate forms of historicism may enrich work on ancient sexualities and their receptions.

Queer temporality has been a vibrant subfield within queer studies, examining links between queerness and non-normative conceptions of time, and more broadly between temporality and affect, embodiment, and desire. Within this general turn, a number of scholars have troubled historicist approaches to literatures of the past by probing the ways in which desire acts and beckons across time, some opting for the term “queer unhistoricism.” Such work critiques the ways in which a rigid historicism assumes stable sexual identities in the past and present, and emphasizes how desire resists or exceeds attempts to contain it within a historicist box or periodized category.

Classical reception is well positioned to benefit from work on queer temporality and to nuance its premises, as every act of reception is made possible and conditioned as much by historical difference as by cross-temporal resonance and affinity. By means of an opening lecture, a discussion of pre-circulated readings, and short papers with respondents, this workshop seeks to map what this productive dialogue might look like, attending both to particular cases of reception and to broader methodological and theoretical questions around historicism, the history of sexuality, and classical reception.

Organized by Erik Fredericksen and Mathura Umachandran (Princeton)

Sponsored by the Department of Classics, the Department of Comparative Literature, the Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program in the Humanities, the Humanities Council, the Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies, and the Office of the Dean of the Graduate School.


Confirmed Participants
• Shane Butler (Johns Hopkins University)
• Ella Haselswerdt (Princeton University)
• Hannah Silverblank (Haverford College)
• Ryan Warwick (Johns Hopkins University)
• Orlando Reade (Princeton University)
• RL Goldberg (Princeton University)
• Matthew Rickard (Princeton University)
• Jessi O’Rourke-Suchoff (Princeton University)
• Rachel Bergmann (Princeton University)
• William Dingee (Princeton University)
• Katie Dennis (Princeton University)


Thursday, November 9

Betts Auditorium
Shane Butler, “The Youth of Antiquity”

Friday, November 10

East Pyne 161

Roundtable discussion of pre-circulated readings


Session One: Papers and Responses


Session Two: Papers and Responses


Session Three: Papers and Responses

Closing Discussion