Profs & Pints Iowa City: How Sappho Shook Things Up

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Profs & Pints Iowa City: How Sappho Shook Things Up

January 23 @ 5:30 pm - 8:00 pm

$13.50 – $17

Profs and Pints Iowa City presents: “How Sappho Shook Things Up,” a profile of an ancient Greek woman whose life and lyric poems challenged assumptions about gender, with Celsiana Warwick, assistant professor of Classics at the University of Iowa.

The ancient Greek poet Sappho has the status of icon among many queer women. So renowned is she for the love poetry that she wrote for other women that the modern term “lesbian” ultimately was derived from the island of Lesbos, where she lived. But what do we actually know about her?

Join Celsiana Warwick, a scholar of Greek poetry and gender and sexuality in the ancient world, for a close examination of the life and work of a woman who continues to inspire love and fascination even though only fragments of her poetry survive.

Professor Warwick will look at what information we have about Sappho’s life, sexual orientation, and relationships with other women.  Among the questions she’ll tackle:  Is it valid to apply modern terminology like “lesbian” or “bisexual” to people from ancient cultures who had very different ideas about sexuality and sexual attraction than we do?

We’ll consider how Sappho’s poetry challenged the patriarchal norms of gender and sexuality in ancient Greece and look at the ways in which her poems resonate with the experiences of modern women and queer people.

Normative ancient Greek male sexuality was based on strict hierarchies of power that assigned an active, dominating role to adult men and passive, subordinated roles to their social inferiors. Sappho, by contrast, portrays her relationships with women as more egalitarian, with partners switching roles or doing away with hierarchies altogether.

Tensions between such disparate thoughts about sexuality and gender continue to be felt today. Is there something we can learn from a poet at work more than 2,600 years ago? (Advance tickets: $13.50 plus 12 percent state and local sales tax and processing fees. Doors: $17, or $15 with a student ID. Listed time is for doors. Talk starts 30 minutes later.)

Image: From an 1864 Simeon Solomon painting of Sappho and Erinna in a Garden at Mytilene (Tate Gallery / Wikimedia Commons).


January 23
5:30 pm - 8:00 pm
$13.50 – $17
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Profs and Pints
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Graduate Iowa City
210 S Dubuque St
Iowa City, IA 52240 United States
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