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Open House this Friday!

6 Sep

Get ready!! All are invited to come tour the theme houses and learn more about our plans for the year. There will be free food and games, as well as information about our upcoming events.

When: Friday, Sept. 9, 4-6 pm

Where: W. College Theme Houses, corner of College and McDonough

PS Rumor has it that there will be scones. Get pumped.

Meet Maddye.

31 Aug

Year: Junior

Major: Psychology

Aboard a tiger at Holiday World in Santa Claus, Ind.

About Me: I will wear anything that is nautical themed (yes, even this). The Spice Girls are still my favorite band and I eat more popcorn than what is healthy. I like owls.

Mythological figure: As our first activity, we were all supposed to choose a (Greek) mythological figure to serve as our “patron” figure for the year. Bonus points if they are somehow associated with your year-long goals, which we all set this week. I chose the goddess Hecate, who is the goddess of witchcraft and crossroads (more on the character of Hecate later). This selection was not so practical (I chose last) and is admittedly rather whimsical. Why Hecate? What the hell does this have to do with what I hope to accomplish this year?

Firstly, one of my goals is to become Willow Rosenberg (jk – already done). Like many people my age, I constantly changing. I find myself at a crossroads with every decision that I make, particularly with those related to my education. I recently (read: spring finals) decided to change my major from History to Psychology. This is both scary and exciting for me – I’m fascinated by Psych and all of the possibilities this path will give me, but I’m terrified of letting go of my plan. I hope that choosing this goddess who is symbolic of physical and metaphorical crossroads will help me stay level headed and make good decisions. And if it helps me to perfect my Patronus, even better.

Classics is super gay (in a good way)

26 Mar

So I just wrote this paper for my History 290 class about the exclusive nature of second-wave feminism (ie. how Betty Friedan, the woman whose book, The Feminine Mystique, is credited with sparking the whole movement, only defined women’s issues in terms of problems for white, middle-class, educated, heterosexual women). Freidan’s vision of “women” is the antithesis of the “woman-identified woman” described in 1970 by feminist group Radicalesbians.

The point was that aside from being RUDE to the max, Friedan’s contributions to the movement are rendered purely historical as they are contradictory to the objectives of mainstream third-wave feminism and her rhetoric can’t be applied by modern women who strive for equality and freedom from oppression for all women.

Desperate housewife and hater of lavender menace, Betty Friedan

So what does this have to do with Classics? Well, it got me thinking.

The paper focused mostly on the perspective of lesbians (since I am choosing to sketch women’s and lesbian history for my class – apparently I am also trying to test how many papers a student can write on lesbians in one semester). While my focus is narrowed to the experiences of queer women in American history, I realized that lesbians in the ancient world are not only rather unique, but studying them could help my shape my view of women’s history overall.

What do we know about lesbians in the classical world? Admittedly, not very much.

While the scholarship on male homosexuality – specifically in Greece and Rome – is abundant, only sparse records exist regarding love between women. This still seems to be the case. The only place where women’s history/lesbian history seems really important  is in spaces that cater specifically to women.*

Sappho loved the ladies.

The go-to source for lesbianism is Sappho, who wrote on love for both men and women (and whose home on the island of Lesbos gives the root for the word “Lesbian”), and even her works are too little to be heavily-relied on. The result is an incomplete portrait for women.

Although I don’t think that using Sappho as a model for all women who loved other women in ancient Greece is very productive, it’s basically all we got. So what can we conclude about lesbians based solely on the life of Sappho? Why does this matter?

As a member of a thiasoi (a community of Greek women who were allowed a limited education), Sappho writes of same-sex relationships between students and mistresses. I’ve been studying women’s colleges in the nineteenth century as a part of my research. They followed a similar model – elite women gained some education and intimate relationships (referred to as “romantic friendships”) formed between these women. Romantic friendships in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuriesoften led to “Boston marriages”, in which two women co-habitated in lieu of getting married and used their freedom from a male authority figure (whether it be husband or father) to further their education and form a career. Famous examples of romantic friendships include suffragists Carrie Chapman Catt and Mary Peck (who lived together for several years until Catt’s death) and Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok (who, although they did not live together, both were prosperous career women whose correspondence seems indicative of a physical and romantic relationship).

The similarities between Sappho’s thiasoi and early women’s colleges allow me to pose questions that apply to both of them: Were these women naturally attracted to other women, or did the environment facilitate these feelings? Did they prefer the company of women, or was this a political choice aimed at gaining a small amount of agency?

I know this is ramble-town, but my point is that drawing connections between ancient Greece and the United States in the nineteenth century, I am able to see trends and form a more complete picture of intimate relationships between women. Pretty cool, huh?

–Maddye

For more on gay and lesbian issues in the ancient world, take Dr. MacEwen’s Gender in Antiquity class. It’s super awesome.

Link to Radicalesbians, “The Woman-Identified Woman”: http://scriptorium.lib.duke.edu/wlm/womid/

Link to selection of poems by Sappho: http://www.shigeku.org/xlib/lingshidao/waiwen/sappho.htm

Recommended reading: Love, Sex and Tragedy by Simon Goldhill (this book not only answers the question of why classics is important, but highlights problems within modern conceptions of classics – warning: lots and lots of penis)

*WARNING: TANGENT! but here’s a fun experiment: try visiting OutWrite bookstore on Piedmont to see how well women are represented. Even though its first and foremost a queer bookstore, you will find that their inventory is incredibly biased towards gay men. Not that I’m bitter, but it  just seems that whenever there is a separation of male and female identities, men get a priority. Don’t even get me started on the lack of trans material in that store. If you’re frustrated by OutWrite, take a trip to Charis Books in Little 5, which is the bee’s knees.

Salvete!

22 Mar

Welcome to the Interconnectivity and the Classical World Theme House Blog!

We are a theme house for the 2011-2012 academic year that seeks to examine the impact the classical world has had and continues to have on various disciples of study. Our purpose is to educate the Agnes Scott community about Classics (what it is, why it is useful, how it relates to modern society) and spark students’ interest in a new subject and to help them consider their major from a different perspective.

House members will use this blog as a means to share their interactions with Classics as well as sassy anecdotes and embarassing Black Cat photos.

Even though we don’t move in to the house until August, we will try to update this blog as we experience Classics over the summer. We look forward to seeing you all next year :]
–Maddye