Phee Marcial Humanities and Social Science
Catullus, Gender-fluidity, and Trans*lation
In the past few decades, discussion of gender-fluidity in poetry has become more prevalent, but it is often limited to contemporary literature and the realm of modern queer theory. My research investigates poetic portrayals of gender-fluidity in the work of the ancient Roman poet Gaius Valerius Catullus. I am focusing in particular on the original poetry of Catullus alongside Romantic, Victorian and contemporary translations/adaptations in English in order to track how these portrayals have changed over time. The approach is grounded by the conception of poetry in translation as valuable in its own right and by the parallel conception that artistic performance of gender is its own sort of ‘translation’. This project also discusses and explores the portrayal and sociolinguistic creation of gender in Catullus’ poetry in the context of poem form and content. With this work I hope to present a novel perspective on these poems that provides insight about their past lives and reminds contemporary readers of their own sociocultural situatedness in the present.