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Queer Tragic Masks: LGBT History and Ancient Drama

A poster showing a rainbow background with a tragedy mask in front.

Join Oliver Baldwin, British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Classics, for a public lecture on how performances of ancient tragedies have been used to tell LGBT+ stories.

Since the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York, queerness has often been embodied, assessed, and enacted through performances of ancient tragedy. Tragic plots, characters and conflicts have been used to work through many key issues in LGBTQI+ history, from AIDS and same-sex marriage to homophobia and queer liberation. This LGBTQ History Month lecture explores three key stage versions of Greek tragedy: a lesbian version of The Bacchae against Section 28; a gay retelling of Medea exploring same-sex marriage and parenthood; and a re-interpretation of Trojan Women as a queer family of colour led facing AIDS.

Join us to experience how a lesbian goddess brought queer divine retribution over Thatcherite homophobia, how a gay Medea endures the lack of protection of marriage and how a Black trans woman burns down the hospital where AIDS is crippling her family. These examples demonstrate how the tragic masks of ancient drama have been painted over with queer colours to defend, vindicate and celebrate LGBTQI+ people and their history.

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27 February 2023
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
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Edith Morley Building, Van Emden Lecture Theatre
Edith Morley Building, University of Reading
Reading, Berkshire RG6 6UR United Kingdom
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