• Date of Birth: August 11, 1943
  • Born City: St. Louis
  • Born State/Country: MO
  • Parents: Joseph, manager of a dairy, & Mary Mooney W.
  • Date of Death: April 25, 1990
  • Death City: Palo Alto
  • Death State/Country: CA
  • Education:

    B.A. St. Louis U., 1963; study at St. Lawrence's Abbey (Ampleforth, Eng.), 1963-6; Ph.D. U. Texas, 1974.

  • Dissertation:

    "In Pursuit of Nymphs: Comedy and Sex in Nonnos' Tales of Dionysos" (Texas, 1974).

  • Professional Experience:

    Monkhood, Abbey of St. Lawrence at Ampleforth (Order of St. Benedict), England, 1963-6; The Priory & Sch. of St. Louis & St. Mary (St. Louis, MO), 1966-70; asst. prof, class. Yale, 1974-9; Mellon fell. U. Southern California, 1978-9; asst. prof, to prof, class. Stanford, 1979-90; NEH fell.; ACLS fell.; Guggenheim fell.

  • Publications:

    "Callimachus 260.66 Pf.," CW 72 (1978-9) 237-8; "Lollianos and the Desperadoes," JHS 100 (1980) 155-81; "Gardens of Nymphs: Public and Private in Sappho's Lyrics," Women's Studies 8 (1981) 63-89; "The Mendacity of Kalsiris and the Narrative Technique of Heliodoros' Aithiopika," YCS 27 (1982) 93-157; Later Greek Literature, YCS21 (1982), ed. with Gordon Williams; "Akko," CP 11 (1982,) 137-8; "Geminos of Tyre and the Patron of Artemiodorus," CP 77 (1982) 245-8; Auctor & Actor: A Narratological Reading of Apuleius' Golden Ass (Berkeley & Los Angeles, 1985); "Achilles Tatius, Leucippe and Clitophon" (trans.), in Collected Ancient Greek Novels, ed. B. P. Reardon (Berkeley & Los Angeles, 1989) 170-284; Constraints of Desire: The Anthropology of Sex and Gender in Ancient Greece (New York, 1990); Nothing To Do with Dionysos? Athenian Drama in its Social Context, ed. with F. Zeitlin (Princeton, 1990); Before Sexuality: The Construction of Erotic Experience in the Ancient Greek World, ed. with D. Halperin & F. Zeitlin (Princeton, 1990); Rehearsals of Manhood: Athenian Drama as Social Practice (forthcoming); Ancient Greek Novels: The Fragments, ed. with Susan A. Stephens (Princeton, 1993).

  • Notes:

    Jack Winkler was a leading interpreter of ancient Greek and Roman culture and an indefatigable activist for feminist, gay, and minority causes on college campuses. He died of complications arising from AIDS at the age of 46. His publishing career lasted barely a decade, but in that time he revolutionized several fields of classical studies and promoted a variety of feminist, anthropological, narratological, and theoretical approaches to the study of Greek and Latin texts. Winkler's work distinguished itself from traditional classical scholarship by its avoidance of a high-culture approach to ancient texts and by its refusal of an authoritarian or mandarin style of academic writing. He was interested in popular, marginal, and non-canonical literature, such as folk narratives, melodramas, magical spells, and dream-books. Even his interpretation of the more dignified literary forms emphasized the different meanings they held for various groups within the local communities which produced them. He read Apuleius' The Golden Ass as one might read a detective story, emphasizing the relation between the author's literary gamesmanship and the reader's opportunities for free play. He treated Athenian drama not as high art but as a social practice. He championed an ethnographic approach to Greek sexual conventions, seeking to demonstrate the limited scope and selective enforcement of Greek sexual morality and to document the element of bluff that accompanied many ancient pronouncements about what was natural and unnatural in matters of sex. He described how Greek women resisted or evaded the brutal pressures of ancient patriarchy and sometimes managed to claim for themselves and their lives a measure of actual or spiritual autonomy. Winkler was not only a scholar. He was also a tireless, intrepid, and effective political activist, especially for feminist and gay causes within the academy. While an assistant professor at Yale, he helped to found a women's studies program at the university and to organize a Gay Rights Week; he was also a plaintiff in a landmark sexual harassment suit filed against the university on behalf of women as a class. That suit helped establish the legal principle that the sexual harassment of women by men is a form of sex discrimination, and it led to the institution of anti-harassment policies at colleges and universities throughout the United States. Winkler was possessed of an almost magical presence, which led people who had met him only once and very briefly to remember him thereafter with vividness, affection, and even awe. His complete openness, his warmth, his charm, his personal humility, his courageous and unapologetic advocacy for his beliefs, his love of storytelling, his playfulness, his vast erudition, his total lack of pretentiousness, and his utter personal transparency are all manifest to varying degrees in his writing, whose power to enchant and enthrall is still palpable to those who venture within range of its magical spell.

  • Sources:

    David M. Halperin & Susan A. Stephens, APA Newsletter (June 1990) 7.

  • Author: David M. Halperin