A Very Queer Family Indeed

Wednesday, 9 December 2015 - 5:00pm6:30pm

Rainey Auditorium, Penn Museum, 3260 South Street

A Very Queer Family Indeed

Simon Goldhill

Professor of Greek Literature and Culture
Fellow and Director of Studies in Classics
King's College, University of Cambridge

Cambridge historian Simon Goldhill explores the crucial period in nineteenth-century Britain when modern notions of sexuality and sexual identity took shape. He takes the unusual approach of focusing on a single remarkable family, in which a man of the church finds he is married to a woman who desires women; their six children all shun heterosexual intercourse; and each family member writes books and diaries about the others.


Simon Goldhill is Professor of Greek Literature and Culture at Cambridge University and Fellow and Director of Studies in Classics at King's College, Cambridge. He is also the inaugural John Harvard Professor in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities at Cambridge, and the director of the University's Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH). At CRASSH he is principal investigator for a new project on the Bible and Antiquity in nineteenth-century culture.

Goldhill has written extensively on Greek tragedy, culture, literary theory and on the reception of Greek literature. He has written on such diverse topics as the contemporary staging of Greek tragedy, poetics, ancient erotic fiction, sexuality and narrative in the Oresteia, and his most recent work on the influences of classical antiquity on Victorian culture.

He is the author of many books, including Sophocles and the Language of Tragedy, for which he received the Runciman Award, and Jerusalem City of Longing, winner of the Independent Publisher's Gold medal for History. He is also the author of Language, Sexuality, Narrative: The Oresteia, and Love, Sex and Tragedy: How the Ancient World Shapes Our Lives. His most recent book, Victorian Culture and Classical Antiquity: Art, Opera, Fiction, and the Proclamation of Modernity, won the 2012 Robert Lowry Patten Award for best book on Victorian literature. In it Goldhill examines how sexuality and desire, the politics of culture, and the role of religion in society were considered and debated through the Victorian obsession with antiquity. His book Foucault's Virginity argues that standard accounts of ancient sexuality are distorted because they miss the insights one gains from the texts of ancient erotic poetry and dialogues. Both Victorian Culture and Foucault's Virginity make deft use of literary and cultural sources, including novels, poems, opera and dialogues, to explore human desire and sexuality.

Goldhill is a fellow at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Cosponsored by the Department of Classical Studies


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