[SydPhil] Critical Antiquities Workshop - Anthony Hooper

Tristan Bradshaw tbradshaw at uow.edu.au
Wed Mar 16 10:37:43 AEDT 2022

Dear all,

The Critical Antiquities Workshop is back for 2022. Please see the attached flyer for a schedule of events and abstracts for March-June. Recordings of past events can also be found on our YouTube channel<https://protect-au.mimecast.com/s/xGpyCD1vlpT58RqVJiW4dW7?domain=youtube.com>. Subscribe to be notified of new videos. You can also follow us on Twitter @CritAntiquities<https://protect-au.mimecast.com/s/sm96CE8wmrt3ZQLD0HwNl2N?domain=twitter.com>.

In the first workshop of 2022, we are delighted to host Anthony Hooper (University of Wollongong) for his paper, ‘Erotic Androgyny and the Priority of the Feminine in Plato’s Symposium.’ The event will be held on Thursday, March 24 10-11:30am (Sydney time). That translates to the following times elsewhere:

Singapore: Thursday, 7-8:30am
Tokyo: Thursday, 8-9:30am
Los Angeles: Wednesday, 4-5:30pm
Mexico City: Wednesday 5-6:30pm
Chicago: Wednesday, 6-7:30pm
New York City: Wednesday, 7-8:30pm

To receive a Zoom link, please sign up for Critical Antiquities Network announcements here<https://protect-au.mimecast.com/s/2GnYCGv0oyC1zVkMOtpqCW-?domain=signup.e2ma.net>. If you have already subscribed to the mailing list, you will receive the Zoom link and need not sign up again.

Here is the abstract:

Recent insights regarding the continuing (omni)presence of institutional sexism, and the forceful response of the MeToo movement demand that Classical scholars bring a fresh eye to the pressing issue of the representation and valuation of women in ancient sources. On first blush, Plato’s Symposium appears unpromising grounds for exploring, let along celebrating women and the feminine. Symposia are traditionally male-dominated spaces, and in Plato’s drinking part women are dismissed from performing even the minor functions for which they were typically employed – as entertainers and courtesans. Furthermore, each of the early speakers of the dialogue offer phallocentric accounts of erôs, banishing women from the world of respectable erotics. However, Socrates crashes this ‘sausage party’, granting the feminine a starring fore by offering his own encomium of love in the voice of a woman, Diotima. The conspicuous inclusion of the feminine comes to a head at 206b1-e5, in her (in)famous gambit regarding possession at 206b1-e5. This passage is striking for prominent inclusion of a panoply of distinctly feminine sexual imagery, including tiktein (‘giving birth’), kuein (‘pregnancy’), gennan (‘bearing’), and ‘ôdis’ (‘birth pangs’).
                In interpreting this passage, the standard scholarly move has been to read ‘Plato’ here to be appealing to a technical Asclepian doctrine regarding embryology that relegates women merely to receptables of male seed, systematically minimising their contribution to reproductive processes to nearly nothing. On this reading, this passage represents the apogee of the dismissal of the feminine from erotic discourse in the Symposium. Against this reading, I seek to re-establish the value, prominence, and presence of the feminine in this passage. Furthermore, I argue that the treatment of possession here represents one of the few places in the dialogues in which the feminine is given priority over the masculine. Through appealing to female sexual imagery, I establish that Diotima seeks to re-orient her audience’s conception of possession away from a male mode – concerned with domination, instrumentality, and interchangeability – with a feminine mode of possession – concerned with nurturing, and allowing the objects of desire to change most basically who one is. The dramatic suggestion that i) all people are androgynous (in a way) and ii) that ta erotika demands the priority of our feminine part represent significant contributions to discourse regarding the valuation of women in Plato’s dialogues, and the Greek world more generally.

We hope to see you there.

Tristan and Ben

Tristan Bradshaw
Lecturer, School of Liberal Arts | Co-director, Critical Antiquities Network
Faculty of the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities | Building 19 Room 1085
University of Wollongong NSW 2522 Australia
T +61 2 4221 3850
Honorary Associate
The University of Sydney
School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

University of Wollongong CRICOS: 00102E

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