Call For Papers
Conference dates: 11-13th July 2016
Conference location: St Michael’s College, Cardiff University
Classical Studies are currently witnessing a sensory/sensual turn: the five senses have become central to our understanding of the Greek and Roman world. This welcome development has led scholars to pay attention to repulsion as much as to pleasant sensations, and has added a new material dimension to literary studies. This conference builds upon these sensory approaches to examine bodily fluids: blood and menstrual blood, sweat, tears, phlegm, bile, urine, sperm, and milk. How were bodily fluids, and those who exuded them, received in ancient society? How were internal bodily fluids perceived, and how did this perception alter if such fluids were externalised? Do these ancient conceptions complement or challenge our modern sensibilities about bodily fluids? How were religious practices determined by attitudes towards bodily fluids, and how did religious authorities attempt to regulate or restrict the appearance of bodily fluids?
In addition to furthering our historical knowledge of these individual bodily fluids, this conference seeks to refine the definition of the ancient body. Does the body end with the skin, or is it a more fluid entity that can leak, transpire, and trickle? How prevalent are metaphors of fluidity in descriptions of the ancient body? How are bodily fluids an indication of gender and sex? We are also interested in descriptions of conception, in which male and female bodily fluids are said to coagulate to form an embryo.
We welcome papers on any bodily fluid and/or on the fluidity of the ancient body, building upon material, literary or anthropological sources, from Homer to Late Antiquity and the early Byzantine period. We are open to various approaches, including medical history; gender, feminist and queer history; history of the body; and history of sexuality.