In the Flesh
Embodied Identities in Roman Elegy
Wisconsin Studies in Classics
Edited by Laura McClure, Mark Stansbury-O’Donnell, and Matthew Roller
“Moving beyond theorizing about the textualized body in Roman elegy, and taking her cue from feminist 'new materialisms,' Zimmermann Damer reasserts the presence in elegiac poetry of bodies themselves, with all their abject materiality, genderedness, and sexiness. An impressive study that is a delight to read.”
In the Flesh deeply engages postmodern and new materialist feminist thought in close readings of three significant poets—Propertius, Tibullus, and Ovid—writing in the early years of Rome's Augustan Principate. In their poems, they represent the flesh-and-blood body in both its integrity and vulnerability, as an index of social position along intersecting axes of sex, gender, status, and class. Erika Zimmermann Damer underscores the fluid, dynamic, and contingent nature of identities in Roman elegy, in response to a period of rapid legal, political, and social change.
Recognizing this power of material flesh to shape elegiac poetry, she asserts, grants figures at the margins of this poetic discourse—mistresses, rivals, enslaved characters, overlooked members of households—their own identities, even when they do not speak. She demonstrates how the three poets create a prominent aesthetic of corporeal abjection and imperfection, associating the body as much with blood, wounds, and corporeal disintegration as with elegance, refinement, and sensuality.
“A refreshingly new reading of Roman love elegy that brilliantly studies the flesh and blood of elegy's men and women. These bodies are not always perfect—as they resist the consummation of inscription, they often appear wounded, repulsive, and macabre. Anyone interested in Latin poetry should read this splendid book.”
—Ionnis Ziogas, Durham University
LC: 2018014263 PA
320 pp. 6 x 9
1 b/w illus., 1 table