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Classical Roman views of female homoeroticism, though more numerous than the Greek references, can be just as hard to evaluate due to a tendency to displace discussions of f/f sex onto past eras and foreign locations. We've encountered some of the same difficulty in trying to interpret how mythological data can shed light on real-life dynamics. We also run into the problem of scholars projecting their preconceptions about f/f relations onto the Classical data and reading-in interpretations that may not be present in the data.

Whoops, I had this post all set up to go on Monday and here it is Wednesday and I somehow forgot to add the intro and post. Time passes both in the blog and in the subject of the books. The exploration of evidence from Greek sources is about to give way to the Roman material. And we begin to see shifts in Greek attitudes, although there isn't a linear progression from the open nonchalance of the Archaic Greek material to the anxious scorn of the Roman material.

Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast - Episode 215 - On the Shelf for November 2021 - Transcript

(Originally aired 2021/11/06 - listen here)

Welcome to On the Shelf for November 2021.

I need to start with a small apology. My neighbor is doing construction work involving power tools and hammering, and it’s likely that some noise may occasionally leak through. Just in case you hear odd noises in the background.

After dithering for a while, I've decided to go forward with the podcast fiction series for a fifth year. The deciding factor (other than "five" being a nice number) was doing the proofreading of the remaining stories for this year and being reminded of the great work that people are entrusting to me to publish. For most of the stories we've included in the podcast, it's reasonable to say that they never would have existed except for having the Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast as a market.

I know I keep repeating myself, but the thing I find most impressive about Boehringer's work (and the thing most often lacking in general studies of classical homosexuality) is the meticulousness with which she sets up the cultural, literary, and textual context of each piece of evidence she examines.  She points out how many previous interpretations of references to f/f relations like this one have taken them at face value, or as a genuine personal opinion of the author, or presented them without the context of the author's overall work.

Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast - Episode 214 – Moon River by Mandy Mongkolyuth - transcript

(Originally aired 2021/10/31 - listen here)

No clever intro today, gotta run for Sirens programming.

Although Boehringer doesn't touch on the question directly, I wonder how badly our image of f/f eroticism in Classical Greece is skewed by having two significant textual references filtered through one specific author (Plato)? There is a brief advisory in one discussion that Plato's opinions on the topic may not have been representative of the general public. But I also wonder to what extent Plato's opinions on anything were representative of his contemporaries.

This chapter divides nicely for blogging into the four main topics: Plato’s Symposium, Plato’s Laws, the presence and absense of specific erotic motifs in different kinds of material, and f/f erotics in humorous literature. We really see the power of a work of this depth in how it can tease out meaning by extensive comparison among themes and sources.

The most delicious thing about Boehringer's approach to this material -- and what I hoped I would get -- is a very detailed presentation not only of the cultural and historic context of the small scraps of hard data, but an analytical comparison of all the variant material related to each motif, with a discussion of how the variations speak to the central themes and how they can guide understanding of the accreted layers of interpretation and elaboration. The dive into the Calliso myth that forms the majority of what today's blog covers is a great example.


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