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Ancient obscenities : their nature and use…

Ancient obscenities : their nature and use in the ancient Greek and Roman…

by Dorota Dutsch (Editor), Ann Suter (Editor)

Other authors: Michael Broder (Contributor), Frances Hickson Hahn (Contributor), Seth A. Jeppesen (Contributor), Barbara Kellum (Contributor), Donald Lateiner (Contributor)6 more, Sarah Levin-Richardson (Contributor), Jess Miner (Contributor), Kirk Ormand (Contributor), Deborah Roberts (Contributor), Ralph M. Rosen (Contributor), Elizabeth Young (Contributor)

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This fine collection of twelve studies, which originated in the 2008 Feminism and Classics Conference at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, joins a spate of recent work seeking to build on the advances made since the mid-1970s in our understanding of sex and gender in the ancient world. A cohesive ensemble it was not intended to be: the editors’ use of plural “obscenities,” accepting that currently “consensus about what constitutes obscenity is hardly possible” (1), aims rather to “understand and theorize the more abstract concept ‘obscenity’ through various of its individual manifestations” (2). The collection is accordingly more of a sampler, a broad and disparate range of material (language, texts, art, and material culture) in which the contributors articulate their own definitions and employ critical methods drawn not only from philology and literary criticism but also anthropology (especially Douglas), ethnography of speaking, linguistics, narratology (especially Bakhtin), psychoanalysis, sociology, and queer, speech act, and social performance theories: Part 1 (chapters 2–6) focuses on Greece (129 pp.), Part 2 (chapters 7–11) on Rome (127 pp.), and Part 3 (chapters 12–13) on Ancient Obscenities and Modern Perceptions (63 pp.). Although the contributors are aware of one another and some studies can be read together (e.g. those on Greek ritual and cults), for the most part they go their own ways: each chapter has its own endnotes and bibliography, the editors’ Introduction (Ch. 1) describes but does not synthesize the contributions, and a skimpy index gives little idea of the volume’s wealth of topics and interesting detail.

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dutsch, DorotaEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Suter, AnnEditormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Broder, MichaelContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hahn, Frances HicksonContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jeppesen, Seth A.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kellum, BarbaraContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lateiner, DonaldContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Levin-Richardson, SarahContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Miner, JessContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ormand, KirkContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Roberts, DeborahContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rosen, Ralph M.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Young, ElizabethContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0472119648, Hardcover)

Ancient Obscenities inquires into the Greco-Roman handling of explicit representations of the body in its excretory and sexual functions, taking as its point of departure the modern preoccupation with the obscene. The essays in this volume offer new interpretations of materials that have been perceived by generations of modern readers as “obscene”: the explicit sexual references of Greek iambic poetry and Juvenal’s satires, Aristophanic aischrologia, Priapic poetics, and the scatology of Pompeian graffiti. Other essays venture in an even more provocative fashion into texts that are not immediately associated with the obscene: the Orphic Hymn to Demeter, Herodotus, the supposedly prim scripts of Plautus and the Attic orators. The volume focuses on texts but also includes a chapter devoted to visual representation, and many essays combine evidence from texts and material culture. Of all these texts, artifacts, and practices we ask the same questions: What kinds of cultural and emotional work do sexual and scatological references perform? Can we find a blueprintfor the ancient usage of this material?


(retrieved from Amazon Sat, 16 Jan 2016 14:56:30 -0500)

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