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  • Titill er á ensku The Tribadic Tradition: The Reception of an Ancient Discourse on Female Homosexuality
  • Útdráttur er á ensku

    Near-continually from the 1st to the 19th centuries, the main word used for homosexual women was Greek: tribade. This word marked a discourse on female homosexuality with a defined set of tropes and characterizations, which, far from being “hidden from history”, was in wide use in the ancient world and beyond. Yet it was used only by men and the tropes associated with tribadism were all negative, describing little more than male fantasies; nowhere does a woman refer to herself as a tribade.
    Yet researching tribadism yields a unique insight into the constraints of women’s sexual lives in antiquity. It reveals, by the transhistorical character of the discourse, the deep anxieties of patriarchal society about women’s sexuality; it exposes the strategies by which that society asserts control over women’s lives, and the weaknesses of those same strategies. In this manner, examining the tribadic tradition gives a powerful insight into the structures of sex and power in antiquity and beyond.
    This dissertation traces the reception of the discourse of the tribade from antiquity into the Byzantine Middle Ages, starting with an excursus on Plato’s Symposium and its pioneering act of naming homosexual women, then moving onto the birth and flowering of the tribade in Greco-Roman literature from the 1st century on. The translation of this discourse into the Christian world is treated, where the tribade became a symbol of the pagan other, and finally the tribade is explored as the object of ancient scientific scrutiny in astrology, physiognomy and medicine.

  • Meistaraprófsritgerð varin við Háskólann í Bristol.
  • 14.10.2015

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