We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Staging Masculinity

The Rhetoric of Performance in the Roman World

Erik Gunderson

Publication Year: 2000

Performance was one of the five canonical branches of oratory in the classical period, but it presents special problems that distinguish it from concerns such as composition and memory. The ancient performer was supposed to be a "good man" and his performance a manifestation of an authentic and authoritative manliness. But how can the orator be distinguished from a mere actor? And what is the proper role for the body, given that it is a potential object of desire? Erik Gunderson explores these and other questions in ancient rhetorical theory using a variety of theoretical approaches, drawing in particular on the works of Judith Butler, Michel Foucault, and Jacques Lacan. His study examines the status of rhetorical theory qua theory, the production of a specific version of body in the course of its theoretical description, oratory as a form of self-mastery, the actor as the orator's despised double, the dangers of homoerotic pleasure, and Cicero's De Oratore, as what good theory and practice ought to look like. Erik Gunderson is Assistant Professor of Greek and Latin, Ohio State University.

Published by: University of Michigan Press

Series: The Body, In Theory: Histories of Cultural Materialism


pdf iconDownload PDF


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. i-vi

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. vii-ix

EVERYONE KNOWS WHERE BABIES COME FROM. The same cannot be said for men. Presumably they come from babies. The standard recipe is rather vague: just add time. The theorists of ancient oratory were not content to sit by idly and to wait for nature to take its...


pdf iconDownload PDF
p. xi

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 1-28

WHAT DID ANCIENT ORATORY LOOK LIKE? This study started with this question, but it does not end by answering it with a collection of bodily facts. I offer neither a catalog of gestures nor a script to be used for reproducing the ancient orator. At least, I hope...

read more

CHAPTER 1: Reading and Writing

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 29-58

ANCIENT RHETORICAL THEORISTS TEND TO RECOGNIZE five branches of study requisite to the proper study of the art. While some Greeks may have divided the question up differently,1 the Latin tradition is marked...

read more

CHAPTER 2: Discovering the Body

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 59-86

AN ORATOR MUST STUDY DELIVERY. 1 In order to perform effectively, the orator needs to have a thorough knowledge of every physical aspect of performance: vocal qualities, movements, even dress and grooming. In the process of acquiring this knowledge, the orator...

read more

CHAPTER 3: Self-Mastery

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 87-110

QUINTlLIAN OPENS HIS INSTITUTIO ORATORIA with a confession that his work does not aspire to novelty. Indeed, many of the finest minds of both Greece and Rome have already treated oratory in great detail (l.pr.l). And while Quintilian despairs of being able to...

read more

CHAPTER 4: Actors

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 111-148

IN THE RHETORICAL TRADITION THE ACTOR is a vexed character.1 Sometimes he serves as a point of comparison when discussing the orator's own performance; elsewhere he is an example of behavior to be avoided.2 This doubling of the actor makes him a figure who...

read more

CHAPTERS 5: Pleasure

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 149-186

IN SEVERAL OF THE PRECEDING CHAPTERS, the orator has constructed himself via an aggressive relationship to his own body and soul and to the bodies and souls of others. This relationship allows him to establish himself as himself in vigorous contradistinction to a...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 187-222

THIS CHAPTER BRINGS US BACK to the problems of reading, writing, and textuality that we took up in the first chapter. At the same time, this will be the occasion for seeing the good body and good...

read more

Conclusion:We Other Romans

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 223-230

I WISH TO END WITH A READING of a reading of rhetoric. I have chosen as an example a piece by a leading scholar on Roman oratory. This essay is worth reading because its author is the master of a prevalent scholarly mode that others often only imperfectly execute...


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 231-250


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 251-260

General Index

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 261-266

Index Locorum

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 267-271

E-ISBN-13: 9780472023202
E-ISBN-10: 0472023209
Print-ISBN-13: 9780472111398
Print-ISBN-10: 0472111396

Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2000

Series Title: The Body, In Theory: Histories of Cultural Materialism
See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 642208186
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Staging Masculinity

Research Areas


UPCC logo

Subject Headings

  • Men in literature.
  • Rhetoric, Ancient.
  • Oratory, Ancient.
  • Speeches, addresses, etc., Latin -- History and criticism.
  • Psychoanalysis and literature -- Rome.
  • Homosexuality and literature -- Rome.
  • Male homosexuality, in literature.
  • Human body in literature.
  • Masculinity in literature.
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access