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Title: The Gynaikonitis: The (Un) Gendered Greek House
Authors: Papayiannis, Joanna
Advisors: Shear, Theodore L
Koortbojian, Michael
Contributors: Art and Archaeology Department
Keywords: Athens
Subjects: Archaeology
Classical studies
Issue Date: 2012
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation investigates the notion of women's seclusion in ancient Greece as embodied in the Greek term "gynaikonitis," which is loosely defined as the women's quarters of a Greek house. The "gynaikonitis" is understood as an architecturally delineated space in a remote part of the house that confined women in an effort to restrict contact with unrelated men. Interpretation of the literary testimony on household space has resulted in a standard picture of the Greek house as a place that imprisoned women in order to control their activities. In this study, the legitimacy of this view is evaluated by tracing the term "gynaikonitis" in its various literary contexts, seeking out the iconographic and spatial correlates for specific women's quarters in Greek houses, and addressing the more general problem of the use of domestic space from the perspective of women. This study explores how architectural space can affect behavior at the household level in a way that encourages or hinders interaction between inhabitants, visitors and strangers. Within a framework that views architecture as being socially meaningful, houses are examined for their capacity to divide space along gender lines, to control movement and access, to promote or inhibit visual and physical contact between inhabitants and strangers, and to mediate between private and public space. Cultural notions about space, privacy, and gender roles are also considered and integrated with the material sources for women's lived reality to highlight ambiguous or conflicting attitudes within Greek society. The main objective of this dissertation is to address the issue of women's seclusion in a holistic manner by considering the concept of women's seclusion, assessing the literary and iconographic sources for women's space, and locating correlates for women's space in the archaeological remains of Greek houses. In order to evaluate the conventional impression of women as being confined and secluded in their houses, this study explores the concept of "male" and "female" space, establishes whether or not the literary construction of the "gynaikonitis" was translated into built form, and determines how and to what extent this affected the daily lives of women.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Art and Archaeology

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