Date of Degree
Craig A. Williams
The dissertation addresses four problematic aspects of scholarship on Juvenal 9. The first two are matters of reception history: first, the poem has been understudied; and second, most major extant studies of the poem have been grossly or subtly homophobic. The other two problems are matters of literary criticism: Juvenal's ninth satire has traditionally been read as an attack on homosexuality, when in fact it is neither an attack, nor is it about homosexuality. The current study addresses each of these problems, reassessing the ninth satire in the context of queer theory and camp aesthetics. Chapter One traces the homophobic tendencies in the modern reception of Juvenal 9 across reception modalities including expurgation, biographical criticism, and persona theory. Chapter Two reviews relevant concepts in queer theory and the discourse of camp. Queer theory emphasizes the performative dimensions of sex, gender, and kinship. Camp is a counter-normative discourse in which incongruous situations and juxtapositions are presented in a theatrical manner for humorous effect, expressing the relationship of sex, gender, and kinship deviants to dominant discourses of normativity and embracing the stigmatized identity of the deviant, marginalized other. Chapter Three reviews the debate over Juvenal's moralism among scholars of satire beginning in the 1960s. This debate serves as an unwitting proxy for a debate about camp aesthetics by emphasizing the role of perverse wit in articulating a moral satiric vision. Chapter Four offers a close, detailed reading of Juvenal's ninth satire within the framework of queer theory and camp aesthetics laid out in previous chapters. The reading identifies instances of camp incongruity, theatricality, and humor, the embrace of stigmatized identity, and the expression of solidarity with the deviant. Particular emphases are the parody of social and cultural institutions such as marriage and patronage; literary genres such as epic, elegy, and declamation; and literary motifs such as servitium amoris, militia amoris, and exclusus amator, among others. A Conclusion recaps and extends some of the major contentions of the study and indicates directions for further research. Finally, an Appendix provides an original translation of Juvenal's ninth satire.
Broder, Michael, "Mensura Incognita: Queer Kinship, Camp Aesthetics, and Juvenal's Ninth Satire" (2010). CUNY Academic Works.