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The Spartan Hippeis and Hegemonic Masculinity Intelligence

Date & Time:
January 12, 2018 | 3:30 pm - 5:30 pm
SS 541
Kendell Heydon completed his undergraduate and MA degrees with the department of Classics and Religion at the University of Calgary under Dr. Noreen Humble. He is currently a PhD candidate in the department of Classics and Archaeology at the University of Nottingham, under the supervision of Professor Stephen Hodkinson. His thesis is an examination of constructions of Spartan masculinity in Classical Athenian prose. More specifically, his work employs an interdisciplinary approach which explores authors' depictions of Spartan masculinity from a social constructionist perspective. His research interests include Spartan social history, literary studies, and sociological gender theory. 

The exploration of ancient Greek masculinity is always challenging, due to the generally accepted idea that the Greeks did not have a concept of “masculinity” in the modern western understanding. However, analysis of Spartan masculinity is useful not only for understanding conceptions of masculinity in Antiquity, but to modern constructions as well – as Spartan society has been an enduring ideological reference point to many western societies. My paper seeks to examine a particular arena in which authors depict the construction of Spartan masculinities. Particularly, it will provide detailed analysis of the selection process of the elite unit of the 300 hippeis and the strife for manly virtue, between young men, which Xenophon describes as resulting from this competition. Employing sociological gender theory, based in social constructionist frameworks, I will aim to show that this selection process can be viewed as a performative display of hegemonic masculinity: a societal mechanism wherein both the chosen and unchosen are made to perform adherence to prominent societal ideals via stylized public competition. Thus, I will suggest that gender construction by means of performance can be understood as a chief objective of this important Spartan institution.

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