Special Conference March 24-25 – Women, Democracy, and the Ideology of Exclusion: From Antiquity to the 20th Century

UA Students and Faculty are invited to attend a special conference that will be held on campus. See below for more details, including the times and location of the presentations.

About the Conference

From the earliest configurations of democracy in classical Athens, it became clear that women were not allowed to participate actively in its design and practices. Though extremely important in conveying citizenship to their offspring and providing the state with its essential components, that is, officials to run it and soldiers to protect it, they themselves had little else to add to its operation beyond involvement in religious rituals, weddings, and funerals. Granted that the state needed to control female reproduction in order to ascertain the purity of offspring and, therefore, compliance with the various legal definitions of citizens, the practice of physically restricting women either in their paternal or spousal home intensified their sense of being excluded and marginalized by the state. One may imagine how frustrated women were and how pressingly they questioned their family men regarding the paradox of their situation, to be practically excluded and, consequently, socially devalued, while being told time and again how important and, indeed, irreplaceable they were both for their family and the state. Their desire to participate more actively and contribute to state operations is revealed first and foremost in Aristophanic comedies that satirize women’s efforts to infiltrate the government. This general scheme regarding the social and political status of women was maintained throughout the centuries after the dissolution of democracy under the subsequent ascendancy of empires, monarchies and oligarchies, not only in Greek city-states but also throughout Medieval and Renaissance Europe and even after democracy was revived in the early modern era and down to the early twentieth century.

Papers at the conference will explore expressions of the ideology of ‘female inferiority’ that permeates literature from antiquity through the early modern era, attempting to explain and justify women’s exclusion from active social and, when appropriate, political participation, succeeding in withholding the right of vote from them until the early twentieth century.

Date and Time:
March 24-25, 2016
9:00 am – 5:00 pm

Gorgas Library, Room 205

Hosted by:
The University of Alabama
Modern Languages & Classics
200 B.B. Comer Hall
Box 870246
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0246

Prof. Tatiana Tsakiropoulou-Summers, Dept. of Modern Languages & Classics

Statue of Athena