Sex in the Roman Arena

Thursday, April 11, 2019 5:30pm

Swallow Hall, Room 101

futrell flyer

Although popular culture has long revered the gladiators as the manliest of Romans, posturing before howling crowds of plebeians as the rock stars of their day, the sex of gladiators as constructed by Romans is rather more complicated. This talk tackles the sexualized nuances of the arena, touching on the relative masculinity of gladiators as a group, within Roman society, as well as the sliding scale of virility among the different styles of combat.  And what about female performers?  Were spectacles that were populated by women contestants “sexier”, designed to titillate and persuade in a way that was different from the more standard shows? The kind of spectacle shaded the message of sexual power as well, as Christian women condemned to the arena were suffused with special authority by reason of their gender.  In her lecture, Sex in the Arena, Dr. Alison Futrell will explore these and other matters of gender and power in the Roman arena.

Alison Futrell is Associate Professor and Head of the History Department of the University of Arizona.  Her research is guided by her interest in the symbols and rituals of power in the Roman Empire, with particular focus on the deployment of gender and material culture in imperial politics.  She has appeared as a talking head on a number of documentaries for the History Channel and A&E, including "Hannibal", "The True Story of Gladiators", "Cleopatra's World: Alexandria Revealed," and, most recently, "Boudica: Warrior Queen".

The lecture will take place in Swallow Hall, Room 101, at the University of Missouri, on Thursday, April 11, 2019. It will begin at 5:30 PM, with a reception at 5:00 PM, and is free and open to the public. Dr. Futrell will be giving a Joukowsky Lecture, named for Martha Sharp Joukowsky, past President of the Archaeological Institute of America and Professor of Old World Archaeology at Brown University.  The Joukowsky Lectureship is part of the AIA’s National Lecture Program.

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