Classical Queers Here and Now: Mythmaking in the 21st Century

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2024
full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association
contact email: 

Literary works, video games, comics, TV shows, films, and podcasts that adapt or retell Classical mythology remain popular. Yet, recent attention on these contemporary stories has focused largely on women and women’s perspectives, while Classical queer identities have been decidedly underexplored or even excluded from feminist scholarship. Works such as Xena: Warrior Princess, BBC/Netflix’s Troy: Fall of a City, Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles, Steven Sherrill’s The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break, and Supergiant Games’ Hades and Hades II demonstrate a sustained interest in centering queer bodies and voices within the Classical tradition. Moreover, these works indicate a desire to turn to the Classical past to intervene in the present as part of a larger vision of queer inclusion and social justice. The increasing number of queer Classics stories in the popular sphere remains at odds with mainstream Classics scholarship, which trends towards the conservative insofar as it upholds hierarchies of power based on binary opposition. Beyond the scholarly realm, Classical antiquity has long been held up in the West as the “height of civilization,” and it serves as an important pillar of normative ideologies that oppress and suppress queerness. These contemporary queer adaptations therefore encourage us to question the presumed cisheteronormativity of the original texts themselves, suggesting that Classical mythology is rather queerer than its reception has been. This panel invites papers that analyze how contemporary queer adaptations or retellings of Classical mythology destabilize the white cisheteronormativity that has characterized the reception of these stories. What can be gained by (re-)queering the Classical canon? How do these queer adaptations use the Classical past to intervene in our present moment?

This panel welcomes papers exploring adaptations and retellings of Classical, or other, mythologies that center queer identities or are otherwise queer in terms of race, embodiment, narrative, form, etc. It suggests using these works to consider how these sources use the Classical past to make meaning in the present.

Abstracts must be uploaded to the Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA) portal at https://www.nemla.org/. Contact Hannah Steele (hsteele@udel.edu) for more details, questions, or concerns about this panel.