Thursday, September 25, 2014

call for nominations: LCC activism award

LCC Activism Award:

The LCC's mission statement declares, "the purpose of the Caucus is twofold: scholarly and political."If our scholarly purpose is (in brief) to support queer scholarship, our political purpose is (in brief) to support queer politics. In the 23 years since the Caucus was founded, we have done an increasingly successful job in fulfilling the former purpose, both by organizing panels and by offering awards for scholarly work. Our political purpose has, by contrast, been confined to the valuable yet limited role of providing queer scholars with the support of a like-minded community.

In order to redress this imbalance, at the LCC meeting in Seattle in January 2013 the members voted to institute an Activism Award of $100, to be given either annually or as often as a fitting nominee is presented. The award is intended to honor an LCC member who has worked to promote the rights and well-being of sexual minorities in ways that go beyond the usual academic missions of teaching and scholarship. Such work should have taken place at any time within the past five years, and might include (without being limited to) any of the following:

-Volunteering with, or advising, college or community groups
-Working for political initiatives, causes, or candidates (locally or nationally)
-Engaging in public advocacy (e.g. through op-eds, letters to the editor, blogs, websites, or social media)
-Organizing and/or participating in protests or other forms of resistance to hate and oppression

The nomination process is extremely simple. Send either of the co-chairs, or the treasurer, the name of the person who deserves such recognition, with a very brief description of the reason (e.g. the name of the organization for which they have worked). We will then contact the nominee for more details. Self-nominations are encouraged, but since we are hoping to reach the unsung heroes among us, we urge you to nominate those who may be too modest to identify themselves. Nominations will be accepted throughout the year, but for recognition at the APA they should be received by October 31st in the preceding year. Unsuccessful nominations will remain on file for consideration in subsequent years.

The current cochairs are Deb Kamen ( and Mark Masterson ( The current treasurer is Jorge Bravo (

Award Recipients

2014 Ruby Blondell was awarded the first-ever LCC Activism Award for being a tireless member of the organization since its foundation and for supporting and promoting LGBT rights outside the context of the organization.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

call for nominations: Rehak and Grad Student Awards

Please consider nominating or self-nominating a paper for the following two awards! Due date for both is *October 31, 2014*.

1. Rehak Award

The Rehak Award, named in memory of former LCC co-chair Paul Rehak (1954-2004), honors the excellence of a publication relating to the LCC's mission, including, but not limited to, homosocial and homoerotic relationships and environments, ancient sexuality and gender roles, and representation of the gendered body. The range of eligible work covers the breadth of ancient Mediterranean society, from prehistory to late antiquity, and the various approaches of classicists drawing on textual and material culture.

Articles and book chapters from monographs or edited volumes, published in the past three years (i.e 2012, 2013, 2014) are eligible. Self-nominations are welcome; the nomination and selection process is confidential. Membership in the Caucus is not required, nor is any specific rank or affiliation.

Nominations should be made by October 31, 2014 to LCC co-chair, Deborah Kamen <>. Please provide full bibliographic information, a copy of the text, and/or contact information for the nominee. The award will be announced at the opening night reception of the SCS/AIA meeting in New Orleans.

2. Graduate Student Paper Award

Lambda's new award is designed to encourage and reward scholarship by pre-Ph.D. scholars on issues related to the LCC’s mission, including, but not limited to: homosocial and homoerotic relationships and environments, ancient sexuality and gender roles, representations of the gendered body, and queer theory.

We ask for nominations of oral papers presented by a pre-Ph.D. scholar at a conference (including, but not limited to the SCS/AIA and CAMWS) from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014 (ca. 20 minutes in length as delivered). To nominate a paper, e-mail LCC co-chair Deborah Kamen <> with the presenter’s name and email address and the title of the paper. Self-nominations are encouraged; information related to nominations is confidential. Membership in the Caucus is not required to be
eligible for these awards.

Nominations accepted until October 31, 2014. The winner will be announced at the 2015 WCC-LCC opening night reception at the SCS/AIA.

Graduate student travel to SCS/AIA

If you're a graduate student member of the LCC and will be delivering a paper at the 2015 SCS/AIA conference, you might consider applying for an LCC Graduate Student Travel Award!

To apply for the $150 award, students must detail their involvement in the LCC and its mission; demonstrate their financial need; and provide the title of the paper they will be delivering at the SCS/AIA. Recipients of the travel award will be expected to provide a brief report on their use of the award.

Applications should be submitted to LCC Co-Chairs Deborah Kamen ( and Mark Masterson ( by *October 31, 2014*.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Book Review, Blood on King

Helen King. The One-Sex Body on Trial: The Classical and Early Modern Evidence. Burlington: Ashgate, 2013.

Reviewed by H. Christian Blood, Yonsei University (

Helen King’s The One-Sex Body on Trial: The Classical and Early Modern Evidence is as fascinating as it is formidable—not to mention engaging and informative in shedding light on both less familiar primary texts and the ins-and-outs of recent scholarly debates.

In the introduction, “Making Sense of Making Sex,” Professor King announces the book’s aim: “I want to put [Thomas Laqueur’s 1990 book] Making Sex on trial, presenting evidence from the periods with which I have worked most closely: the classical world and early modern Europe” (1), because “the model of body history presented in this book is misleading in many ways yet, to date, none of the many challenges made to it has dented its popularity” (1). The model in question is Laqueur’s one-body thesis, i.e., in antiquity, female and male bodies were understood to be different versions of the same thing, males with external genitals, females with the same genitals located inside, but that gradually in modernity the one-body model was replaced by a two-body model, in which female and male bodies began to be seen as fundamentally different from one another. Laqueur’s work is surely familiar to most anyone who studies ancient sexuality. Laqueur’s book was published the same year as David Halperin’s One Hundred Years of Homosexuality and Other Essays on Greek Love and J. J. Winkler’s The Constraints of Desire: The Anthropology of Sex and Gender in Ancient Greece, and while it was not as explicitly concerned with ancient same-sex phenomena as the other two, it was part of an important moment in classics scholarship, when the study of ancient sex and gender went legit. The problem, as King sees it, is that Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud is “unhelpful” for ancient texts (iv) because it omits too many sources, displays a “lack of care” for the ancient sources it does treat (xi), ultimately turns out to be incorrect in its conclusions about the eighteenth century (223), and yet remains seemingly unassailable even after 25 years of contestation. 

Those who decry a publishing climate rife with companions and guidebooks and very easy introductions will welcome The One-Sex Body on Trial. There is nothing introductory about it, and the care and detail with which King discusses and documents every stage of her argument is formidable. This is not a page-turner. This is not a book one picks up and cannot put down, or finishes in a day. It is a book to be read slowly, and reread carefully. There are no bullet points, text boxes, meta-summations, or outcomes. Readers have to want this book. And I loved it. Most especially, the detail with which King reviews academic debates is impressive; no stone is left unturned and few readers, I imagine, would not be swayed. At the same time, such a dense book can be difficult to review accurately and fairly; no matter what I say, I’d be leaving too much out. Thus, here I won’t even try to be exhaustive or to do justice to King’s argument. Rather, I hope to give readers a mere taste.

As the material goes comfortably from Herophilus and Artemidorus to the contemporary reception of Agnodice as a transgender role model in Switzerland (148), the argument unfolds along two main threads. First, a history of the body that takes into account sources in the history of medicine that discuss whether female and male bodies are fundamentally the same or fundamentally different. Spoiler Alert: King finds that once one telescopes beyond the limited texts with which Laqueur engaged, the evidence from all eras is far less conclusive than Laqueur’s account suggests.

King focuses her discussion around two figures, Phaethousa and Agnodice. Phaethousa was born and lived as a woman, she stopped menstruating after her husband was exiled, and her body mysteriously masculinized in his absence. As Hippocrates records in Epidemics, her voice deepened, her body took on masculine features, she became hirsute, and she died a short time later. King asks whether Phaethousa represents “a ‘woman’ becoming a ‘man’…or simply the late emergence of the ‘true sex’?” (73-4). Agnodice, according to Hyginus, was a female gynecologist and/or midwife who’d disguised herself as a man to study and practice medicine, thus embodying questions of gender identity and gender expression as well as the gendering of medicine.

King analyzes ancient discussions in their original contexts in order to show that in antiquity, the one-body model was hardly prevalent, even in the authors Laqueur favors, and then that Laqueur’s own engagement with ancient materials was limited. Next, King traces the reception of these texts in Europe from the sixteenth century onward, thereby greatly complicating Laqueur’s picture of the early-modern and modern eras. King’s argument will be especially interesting to scholars who study the history of non-conforming gender expression and gender identity in the ancient world, as King focuses on texts that may be unfamiliar to those who work within the tradition of (pro or contra) Foucauldian scholarship. Readers who work in Reception Studies will especially enjoy King’s rigorous discussion of uncommon texts in early-modern European medicine. 

The second thread is the critique of Laqueur and his book’s reception. Initially, this is the book’s focus, but as King delves into a textured and nuanced alternate history of the body, a critique of Laqueur becomes the subtext. Some readers will enjoy the ways in which King charts the incremental progression of scholarly debates over the decades. Indeed, I wish I had had The One-Sex Body on Trial at the start of my own graduate studies because it provides an invigorating study of the rhizomatic complexity of one field’s discourse over several decades.

When I first read the preface and introduction, I was fretful. A book that sets out to put another book “on trial” seems like the kind of project that could end badly, a kind of resentment-driven reverse-festschrift. In lesser hands, it could have. But King’s treatment is so sure and so concise and so engaging, The One-Sex Body on Trial is a pleasure to read and learn from.