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CL7045 Desire and the Body from Catullus to Seneca

This module explores ancient and modern theories of desire and embodiment, and their repercussions for the interpretation of Latin literature of the first centuries BC and AD, particularly the poetry of Catullus, Lucretius, Propertius and Ovid, and Senecan tragedy. We will consider these writers in the context both of philosophical (Stoic and Epicurean) models of desire and corporeality, and of modern theories that have been influential in Roman studies of the last two to three decades, including the work of Foucault and Lacan, and feminist film theory.
  • Module Organiser:
    • Prof Monica Gale
  • Duration:
    • Michaelmas Term (Sept-Dec)
  • Contact Hours:
    • 22 (1 x 2-hour seminar p.w.)
  • Weighting:
    • 10 ECTS
  • Assessment:
    • 100% Continuous Assessment

Introductory Reading

  • D.C. Fredrick (ed.), The Roman Gaze: Vision, Power and the Body (Baltimore and London, 2002)
  • P.A. Miller, Subjecting Verses: Latin Love Elegy and the Emergence of the Real (Princeton, 2004), ch. 1
  • M.C. Nussbaum, The Therapy of Desire (Princeton, 1994), esp. chs. 4–6, 9–10
  • R.W. Sharples, Stoics, Epicureans and Sceptics: An Introduction to Hellenistic Philosophy (London, 1996)

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module, students will be able to:

  • Discuss and analyse constructions of selfhood, desire and embodiment in the texts under study
  • Comment critically on the impact of Epicurean and Stoic theory on the literature of the first centuries BC and AD
  • Explore the applicability of modern psychoanalytic, sociological and film theory to ancient texts, and comment on its usefulness
  • Analyse and assess scholarly interpretations of the texts under study
  • Conduct independent research on a topic related to the themes of the module, and present the results of their research clearly and professionally, both orally and in writing