This study places Longus’s Daphnis and Chloe in dialogue with Foucault and Freud, arguing that within the liminality of adolescence, the formation of gendered subjectivity is a condition of “reversible potentiality” in which any given act of the subject represents the radical potential for the subject to be acted upon. Seeking to disrupt the presumptive equivalence between masculine subjectivity and knowledge/power, the author turns to Lycaeneion’s education of Daphnis as a case study in male subject formation. Here, knowledge functions as a force of immobilization rather than empowerment. If Daphnis’s psychosomatic identification with feminine sexuality is understood as a symptom of male sexual development in pederastic culture, then the Freudian female Oedipus complex can be reimagined as descriptive of the boy’s progression out of sexual objectification and into the role of active sexual pursuer, a stage through which boys in pederastic culture must pass on their way to adult male subjectivity.
Gender Constitution and Reversible Potentiality: The Making of the Masculine Subject in Longus’s Daphnis and Chloe
emily waller is a secondary school teacher and recent graduate of the Masters of Liberal Arts program at the University of Pennsylvania, where her research concentrations included the ancient novel and its reception, gender and queer theory, and psychoanalysis. As a graduate student and an educator, she has taught courses and developed curriculum in literature, film, and classical reception in English literature and popular culture.
Emily Waller; Gender Constitution and Reversible Potentiality: The Making of the Masculine Subject in Longus’s Daphnis and Chloe. differences 1 May 2022; 33 (1): 92–118. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10407391-9735470
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