Kate Gilhuly

Catherine Keane Gilhuly
(781) 283-2653
Classical Studies
B.A., Wesleyan University; M.A., Ph.D., University of California (Berkeley)

Catherine Keane Gilhuly

Professor of Classical Studies

Interests include gender, sexuality, and the erotics of place in the ancient world, as well as using Classics to foster interdisciplinary discussion.

My research interests are sex and gender in Greek literature. In my book, The Feminine Matrix of Sex and Gender in Classical Athens, and in various articles I have written, I examine the way that literary depictions of sex and gender provide insight into larger issues, revealing cultural, political, and economic dynamics. For the ancient Greeks, gender represented an elemental notion of hierarchy, yet this dynamic was fraught with anxiety, nuance, complication. As such, gender was a useful representational scheme for delicate negotiations of power in a variety of arenas. I do not seek to reconstruct the real life experiences of men and women in antiquity, but rather to understand how gender operates in the collective imagination, and then to determine the relationship of this discourse to lived experience.

I teach ancient Greek, ancient literature in translation, and occasionally Latin. In the classroom, I try to instill an enduring and independent interest in Classics in my students, to inspire engagement in critical analysis, and to model a standard of rigorous discipline. While I realize that not all students will want to pursue Classics extensively, I hope to suggest to them the range of learning available in this field, demonstrating the array of disciplines that classical scholarship informs and enhances—literature, philosophy, history, medicine and archaeology. I feel most successful when students tell me that their exposure to Classics taught them to think differently.

Currently, I am working on a new book, entitled Landscapes of Desire: The Erotics of Place in the Classical Athenian Imagination. In this project, I am trying to think about how a place gets a reputation. I examine passages where various sexual behaviors are given geographical and cultural parameters, examining how and why Athenians linked certain sexual practices to a particular ethnicity, or place. I focus on the sexual reputations of Sparta, Lesbos and Corinth in particular, since these regions seem to have attained especially strong symbolic associations with very particular sexual cultures.