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The Platonic Invention of "the Closet" - Panel Discussion, May 28 (deadline May 13)
full name / name of organization:
Paul of Tarsus Interdisciplinary Working Group
THE PLATONIC INVENTION OF THE CLOSET:
Chicago, IL; Northwestern University Law School
The Paul of Tarsus Interdisciplinary Working Group will hold a roundtable discussion on Theodore Jennings' recent text, *Plato or Paul?: The Origins of Western Homophobia* (Pilgrim Press, 2009) at the upcoming Queertopia! Conference at the Northwestern University Law School in downtown Chicago on May 28-29th, to which Professor Jennings will be a respondent.
Jennings' text makes the case that the structure of a homophobic project, if not the original invention of 'the closet', can be found in the *Laws* of Plato and which is then followed in the Hellenistic sources that form alongside the rise of Christianity. This alleged Platonic homophobia is then juxtaposed against the texts of Paul, in which the scant verses that deal with sexuality seem to be, if not tolerant of same-sex relations, at least more concerned with masturbation, extravagent lifestyles, and an unjust social order. Hence, the homophobia that emerges in the Western tradition, follows the logic set out by Plato rather than Paul, even when that Platonic influence persists in Hellenistic societies and is passed off as Christian doctrine.
Panelists should critically engage Jennings' text and argument with a hermeneutics of suspicion. They may choose to address particular sections of the book or particular historical figures studied in it, such as:
~The comparison of Plato's affirmation of same-sex relations in *Charmides,* *Lysis,* or the *Symposium* against either its sublimation in the *Phaedrus* or in Diotima's speech, or its utter rejection in the *Laws*
Panel participants should limit their comments to 10 or 15 minutes and should express their interest by email to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than May 13th.