Straddling the Divide: Reception Studies Today
Supported by the Classical Association of Victoria
This conference is aimed at postgraduate students interested in Classical Reception. The conference will be held at the University of Melbourne on the 1st and 2nd of December 2011. Please email us at email@example.com; join our Facebook group, ‘Reception Post-grads’ or check out our up-coming blog for more information.
What is Classical Reception?
Classical Reception is the study of how the literature, history, language and culture of the Ancient world has shaped our own. The Ancients felt that ‘it all began with Homer’ and this holds true today, whether you find echoes of Homer’s epic program in Milton’s Paradise Lost, or in Star Wars, or simply know of him from The Simpsons, where even the name ‘Homer’ invokes a unique but familiar vocabulary of Western literary thought. The way we write about war, religion, history and love is built on foundations laid down during classical antiquity. Stories and archetypes from the Greek and Roman worlds continue, so that it is impossible to speak of a disjuncture between ancient and modern retellings of the fate of Troy, the dilemma of Oedipus or any story from the vast corpus of classical mythology. Classical Reception, therefore, seeks to better understand these links between Western culture and the classical past.
In light of the various paradoxes, uncertainties and ambiguities surrounding Classical Reception, its practice and its place in the academic discourse, we are interested in exploring the definition of ‘Reception’ itself. In a field where the definition of culture, text and intertext is fluid, how are the Classics translated to modern researchers working across the humanities?
This conference aims to bring together scholars in Australia, particularly postgraduates, who are interested in the Classical tradition and to ask what is unique about the Australian vision of Classical Reception. We hope to facilitate meetings between scholars who otherwise would not have the opportunity to interact in such an interdisciplinary forum. Those who work in reception are often found in Classics departments, but may also be working in English Literature, Linguistics, Art History, Drama, History, Philosophy or even Fine Arts, Architecture or Politics. As such it can be difficult to know who around you is working on research which interacts with the Classical world. We hope to find you all at this conference.
While our primary focus is on literary reception, we welcome other approaches to the Classics: the twentieth century has certainly shown us how broad and all-encompassing the notion of the ‘text’ can be. This conference will provide a comfortable and supportive, yet critically rigorous, forum in which to discuss the meaning and direction of Reception Studies in Australia today. We hope to show this by having the conference proceedings published. This still relatively new discipline is constantly creating new ways of interacting with and understanding our Classical heritage and we want you to be part of that discussion.
Theatre 3, ICT Building (111 Barry Street, Carlton), University of Melbourne, Thursday 1 December, 6:30
Associate Professor John Armstrong, University of Melbourne
“What is the proper ambition that should drive the study of the classical past? Why, if at all, is it important? And if, as I believe, it has a central role to play in the modern world, how must it be approached so that it can really play such a grand part in our society? There is an infinite amount we can know about the classical world and no end to the speculative engagements we can make with such material. But why, we should ask, is it good to know such things?”
In this public lecture, Dr John Armstrong will talk about what should motivate classical scholars and humanists in contemporary academia. Advances in scholarship mean that we know more than we ever knew about the ancient world, its physical remnants, its texts, artifacts and its trail of influence throughout history. But has it made us wiser and finer voices in the modern world? Is such knowledge truly important and valuable? Has it enabled the best of classical culture to be a powerful force in the world? Drawing upon examples both ancient and modern, Dr Armstrong will ask some confronting but necessary questions about why we should study the past, and what our responsibility is to the present.
John Armstrong is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Melbourne and Senior Advisor in the Office of the Vice-Chancellor. In his latest book, “In Search of Civilization” (2009), his views on art, love, literature and philosophy come together in a humanistic statement about what it means to be civilised – and indeed human – in the modern world. In a paper published earlier this year, “Reformation and Renaissance” (April 2011), he calls for educational reform from within the humanities, urging modern scholars to re-evaluate their own practices and regain the sense of wonder and purpose that comes from knowing the past for the sake of a better future.
Sophocles on Suffering
Monash Conference Centre Level 7, 30 Collins Street, Melbourne, Friday 21 October, 6:30
Professor Edith Hall, Royal Holloway, University of London
The ancient Greeks were much more frank, open and sophisticated than most more recent societies in their analysis and confrontation of pain, both physical and psychological. This lecture looks at the depiction of suffering in Sophoclean tragedy, especially Philoctetes, and asks what we can learn from this playwright about our responses to suffering today.
Edith Hall directs the Centre for the Reception of Greece and Rome at Royal Holloway, University of London. She is an advocate of ‘Classical Reception’ – studying the ancient world through the way that its culture has been received by later epochs, whether in fiction, drama, cinema, poetry, political theory, or philosophy. Among her many books are Inventing the Barbarian: Greek Self-Definition through Tragedy (1989), Dionysus since 69: Greek Tragedy at the Dawn of the Third Millennium (2004) and Theorising Performance (2010).
Spinning with Augustus: A Look at Augustan and Other Propaganda
Kaye Scott Room, Ormond College, 49 College Crescent, Parkville, Thursday 6 October, drinks at 6:00, lecture at 6:30 – W.H. Allen Memorial Lecture
Saul Bastomsky retired from Monash University as Head of Classics & Archaeology in 1998. He was also the Honorary President of the Classical Association of Victoria from 1997-2000 and served as a Vice-President until 2010. He has sat on the CAV Council ever since the mid 1980s.
At the Allen Memorial Lecture, the Classical Association of Victoria will award the Alexander Leeper Prize for students who completed Honours in Classics in 2010.
A Tale of Two Cities: Ancient Beth Shean and Tel Rehov
Elisabeth Murdoch Theatre, University of Melbourne, 19 September, 6:30
Amihai Mazar, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Hebrew University excavators have been exploring the archaeology of the two important Jordan Valley Old Testament sites of Tel Beth Shean and Tel Rehov for the past twenty years. Early work focused on Tel Beth Shean, which has a long settled history stretching back over six thousand years. Major discoveries include an intact administrative complex from the earliest urban period, destroyed violently towards the end of the third millennium BCE. Later, northern immigrants (the so called “Khirbet Kerak” peoples from Transcaucasia) settled at the site. In the later, second millennium BCE city, a complete Canaanite temple was discovered, sealed below rich horizons of the Late Bronze Age (ca. 1450-1150 BCE). Beth Shean served as the major garrison town of the New Kingdom in the Jordan Valley with Egyptianised temples containing rich offerings, Egyptian Governor’s Residences with inscriptions naming the governor, and nearby burial grounds featuring local and Egyptian mercenary troop interments, including the famous ‘grotesque’ anthropoid clay sarcophagi burials. According to the biblical narrative Beth-Shean remained Canaanite during the period of the Judges, and the Philistines, we are told, hanged the bodies of Saul and his sons on its walls following the battle of Gilboa. Archaeology provides a somewhat different view on the fate of the city during this period. After nine seasons at Beth Shean, excavations recently moved to Tel Rehov, the largest site in the Jordan Valley. Here the archaeology of the Iron Age Biblical Israel is featured, with a wonderfully preserved settlement of the tenth – ninth centuries BCE sealed below a thick destruction layer. This features almost complete housing units, with wooden foundations for floors and walls still preserved, the world’s first apiary, cult finds, including exquisite offering stands, and evidence for trade and foreign contacts that link Rehov to all the great centres of the Biblical world, including far-away Greece.
This lavishly illustrated lecture on the integrated excavations of Beth Shean and Rehov by one of the most prominent Israeli archaeologists of the last 50 years, offer an unparalleled insight into the Land of the Bible from the first urban beginnings to the coming of Rome.
Amihai Mazar is one of Israel’s pre-eminent archaeologists. He held the Eleazar Sukenik Chair in the Archaeology of Israel at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem from 1994 until his retirement in 2010. His special area of research is the archaeology of the Levant in the Bronze and Iron Ages and he received the Israel Prize for Archaeology in 2009. He directs excavations at Tel Rehov and has also directed digs at Tell Qasile, Tel Batash (biblical Timnah), Tel Beth Shean, Giloh, Khirbet Majameh, Khirbet Abu et-Twein, Hurvat Shilhah and Hartuy. Author or editor of eight volumes of excavation reports and numerous research papers, he was Chairman of the Institute of Archaeology of the Hebrew University from 1995-1998, editor of the important journal Qadmoniot (1994-1995) and co-editor of Israel Exploration Journal since 2010 and a Council member of the Israel Antiquities Authority from 2000–2005.
Identity Theft in the Ancient Mediterranean
Venue: Carrillo Gantner Theatre, Sidney Myer Asia Centre, Swanston Street, University of Melbourne, Wednesday 7 September, 6:30
Professor Erich Gruen, University of California, Berkeley
The lecture examines the prevalent notion that construction of a national identity requires distinguishing one’s own nation or culture from that of the ‘other’ or the alien, an attitude that has spurred ethnic, racial and national stereotypes through the ages. The ancients had their share of this: Greeks scorned ‘barbarians’; Jews denigrated Gentiles; Egyptians regarded all others as inferior and unworthy. But there is another side to this story. The lecture seeks to show that ancients could stress connections as much as differences. They often represented their own cultures in imaginative ways by embracing the legends and traditions of others, incorporating them as their own, fashioning fictive genealogies, fabricating kinship relations and appropriating the features of other civilizations for themselves – an ancient form of ‘identity theft’.
Erich Gruen is the Gladys Rehard Wood Professor Emeritus of History and Classics at the University of California, Berkeley, where he taught full-time from 1966 until 2008. He also served as president of the American Philological Association in 1992. Among his copious publications are Rethinking the Other in Antiquity (Princeton, 2010), Diaspora: Jews Amidst Greeks and Romans (Cambridge MA, 2002) and the indispensable The Last Generation of the Roman Republic (Berkeley, 1974).
Reconstructing an Iconographical Program of the Palace of Nestor at Pylos: New Wall Paintings and Their Interpretation
Elisabeth Murdoch Theatre A, University of Melbourne, Wednesday 24 August, 6:30 – AAIA 2011 Visiting Lecturer
Jack Davis, University of Cincinnati
Carl W. Blegen, excavator at the Palace of Nestor, designed an admirable program of publication for his finds, most of which was completed during his lifetime. One volume, written by Mabel Lang, treated its frescoes. This Bronze Age Palace is unique in allowing investigators to consider its wall-paintings in context: in a great many instances it is possible to restore the entire iconographical program of decoration in a room or in an architectural complex. The discovery in 1995 of some 50,000 unpublished fragments of wall-paintings has resulted in the reconstruction of entirely new iconographical scenes and has contributed greatly to our knowledge of Bronze Age style and the technology of painting.
Jack Davis is Carl W. Blegen Professor of Greek Archaeology at the University of Cincinnati and since 2007 has served as Director of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. Currently he is directing regional studies and excavations in Albania, in the hinterlands of the ancient Greek colonies of Durrachium/Epidamnos and Apollonia. He is the author of ‘Review of Aegean Prehistory: The Islands of the Aegean’ in Aegean Prehistory: A Review, a collection of papers edited by Tracey Cullen for the Archaeological Institute of America. He has also contributed to the Cambridge Companion to the Aegean Bronze Age (2008) and to the Oxford Handbook of Aegean Prehistory (2010).
Howard Carter: English Archaeologist and Egyptologist
Elisabeth Murdoch Theatre A, University of Melbourne, Tuesday 16 August, 6:30
Ronald Ridley, University of Melbourne
Follow the steps that led to the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb and along the way discover the essence of the discoverer himself. On 4 November 1922, Howard Carter discovered the steps leading to Tutankhamun’s tomb, by far the best preserved and most intact ever found in the Valley of the Kings. With his patron Lord Carnarvon in attendance, Carter made a small breach in the top left hand corner of the doorway. When Carnarvon asked him if he saw anything, Carter replied: ‘Yes, wonderful things’.
Professor Emeritus Ronald Ridley taught Ancient History at the University of Melbourne from 1965 until 2005. His research interests include the history of the ancient world (Egypt-Rome), the history of historiography, and the history of autobiography. This lecture forms part of the ‘Tutankhamen and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs Lecture Series’ held at the University of Melbourne, Melbourne Museum and regionally.
Text, Illustration, Revival: Ancient Drama from Late Antiquity to 1550
Supported by the Classical Association of Victoria, The University of Melbourne: 13-15 July 2011
Convenors: Andrew Turner, Giulia Torello Hill
In 2011 the University of Melbourne, in association with the University of Queensland, will host an international conference with the title Text, Illustration, Revival: Ancient Drama from Late Antiquity to 1550. Illustrated manuscripts of classical authors often transmitted an insight for much later readers into how ancient illustrators (and thus audiences) visualized these works, but also provided current reinterpretations of the texts. Both tendencies are best shown in a cycle of illustrations to the plays of Terence, which provides an almost unbroken continuum from the Carolingian era through to the dawn of the age of printing. But despite the fact that these illustrations represented the action on stage, even down to details of masks and props, there is no evidence at all that the plays were performed in the mediaeval period – they were simply literary texts, to be studied and at the most recited by a lector. Rather, revivals of the Classics on stage began in the Italian Renaissance and the theoretical knowledge which critics gleaned from writers like Vitruvius were poured back into the illustrated tradition, providing an extraordinary amalgam of ancient and ‘modern’. This conference will explore the connections between text, illustration, and revival.
Confirmed speakers so far include Gianni Guastella (University of Siena), who has written several seminal publications on the reception of Roman comedy in the Italian Renaissance, Dorota Dutsch (University of California, Santa Barbara), author of Feminine Discourses in Roman Comedy (Oxford 2008), who has most recently been investigating the semiotics of gesture in the illustrated Terence manuscripts; and Bernard Muir (University of Melbourne), a world authority on the digitization of manuscripts, who has published extensively on Latin palaeography and on the mediaeval transmission of texts and who most recently, with Andrew Turner, is the editor of a digital facsimile of a 12th-century manuscript of Terence from Oxford (Terence’s Comedies, Bodleian Digital Texts 2, Oxford 2010). We are hopeful that selected proceedings will eventually be published following the conference.
Staging the Andria: The Parisian Terence as Palimpsest Theatre
Elisabeth Murdoch Theatre A, University of Melbourne, Thursday 14 July, 6:30
Dorota Dutsch, University of California, Santa Barbara
Several illustrated manuscripts of Terence’s comedies feature miniatures representing masked and costumed actors in performance. These have always tantalized theatre historians, because the prototype of the illustrated manuscripts dates most likely to the early 400s, when no theatrical performances took place. Why then would anyone have taken care to commission and produce drawings of actors in meticulous detail? Critical responses to this question have involved some form of denial; some scholars have mined the miniatures for ‘inaccuracies’ to dismiss them as ‘merely decorative’; others have laboured to prove that the miniatures are ‘authentic’ and connected to a ‘real,’ active performance tradition. This paper proposes a shift of focus. What if, abandoning the quest for the ‘real performance’ that the miniatures might represent, we were to explore the actual performance-like effect that the miniatures themselves produce as a result of their blending of image and dramatic text on the pages of the codex? One manuscript, a Parisian Terence executed in Reims (BNF 7899), and one play, the Andria, will be examined in detail. Drawing upon ancient rhetorical theory, Professor Dutsch will explore the interface of writing and illustration as a medium in which the ninth-century team of copyists and artists ‘staged’ the Andria over the earlier late-antique original.
Dorota Dutsch is an associate professor in Classics at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her research focuses on social performance, comprising everything from comedy to funeral rites. She is best known for her study of gendered speech in Roman comedy and its cultural implications, Feminine Discourse in Roman Comedy: On Echoes and Voices (Oxford, 2008). In July 2011 she is visiting the University of Melbourne as the keynote speaker at the conference ‘Text, Illustration, Revival: Ancient Drama from late Antiquity to 1550’.
The Magician’s House: Towards an Archaeology of the Druids
Old Arts Theatre B, University of Melbourne, Monday 6 June, 6:30
The Druids are familiar elements in our perceptions of ancient Gaul and Britain, largely because of their ‘press coverage’ by Classical authors such as Julius Caesar, Pliny and Tacitus. A range of archaeological discoveries of Iron Age and Roman-period ritual material in these regions has been made in recent years. New interpretations of such evidence have led to a quantum leap in our understanding of how complex the cosmologies of these ‘barbarian’ societies undoubtedly were. But there has persisted an uneasy disjunction between the testimony of ancient authors, with their agenda of propaganda, scandal-mongering and colonial bias, and material culture since the latter has, up until very recently, been mute on the presence of Druids. Indeed, the very existence of Druids, as other than figments of literary imagination and spin-doctoring, has frequently been questioned. However, this is beginning to change. New epigraphic evidence from Gaul demonstrates unequivocally that people known as Druids were functioning as religious specialists and, even more significantly, that they were on the scene long after Gaul had been conquered by the Romans in the 50s BC. This new evidence serves not only to prove the Druids’ existence but also to throw into sharp focus the growing body of material culture that attests to the richness and sophistication of Gallo-British religious tradition, on the western periphery of the Roman world, that had its roots deep in its Iron Age past.
Miranda Aldhouse-Green is Professor of Archaeology at Cardiff University (U.K.). Among her many publications are Celtic Myths (1993), An Archaeology of Images: Iconology and Cosmology in Iron Age and Roman Europe (2004), Boudica Britannia (2006) and Caesar’s Druids: An Ancient Priesthood (2010).
Franz Cumont, the Oriental Religions and Christianity in the Roman Empire: A Hegelian View on the Evolution of Religion, Politics and Science
Old Arts Theatre A, University of Melbourne, Tuesday 24 May, 6:30
The Belgian historian of religions, Franz Cumont (1868-1947), coined the term Oriental Religions for the cults of Attis and Cybele, Isis and Osiris, the Syrian Baals and Mithras. Cumont was the founder of modern Mithraic studies but he wrote extensively on all these cults (Les Religions Orientales dans le paganisme romain, 1906, fifth edition 2006). This paper will try to show that Cumont combined an impressive command of all the available sources with a grand Hegelian view on the religious development of mankind. He presented these cults in a symbolic sequence as an ascension through the four sub-lunar elements. In the fifth chapter he discussed the final stage of pagan spirituality: astral religion, thus including the fifth element.
Danny Praet is Professor of Ancient Philosophy & Early Christianity at the University of Ghent in Belgium. He is director of the Centre for the Study of Christian Traditions (CSCT) and member of the Flemish Fund for Scientific Research specialist panel for Theology, Philosophy and Religious Sciences. Among his research interests are the interaction between ancient paganism and Christianity and the reception of ancient religion and philosophy in modern philosophy and literature.
Taita and the ‘Land of Palistin’: Recent Discoveries at Tell Tayinat and Vicinity
Prince Phillip Theatre, Architecture Building, University of Melbourne, Wednesday 11 May, 6:30 – The Australian Institute of Archaeology Petrie Oration
Recent archaeological investigations and an expanding corpus of epigraphic finds have begun to challenge the prevailing view of the Early Iron Age (ca. 1200-900 BCE) as an era of cultural and political disruption and ethnic strife, or a ‘Dark Age’, in the eastern Mediterranean, as depicted in the Homeric epics and the Hebrew Bible. The University of Toronto excavations at Tell Tayinat, on the Plain of Antioch, have begun to uncover the remains of an extensive settlement from this period. The emerging archaeological picture points to the rise of a powerful regional kingdom associated with ‘the Land of Palistin’, comprised of an intriguing amalgam of Aegean, Anatolian (Luwian) and Bronze Age West Syrian cultural traditions. Palistin resurfaces in ninth century Neo-Assyrian sources as the Neo-Hittite Kingdom of Patina, though within diminished political borders, and is eventually destroyed in 738 BCE by the Neo-Assyrian empire builder Tiglath-pileser III, who transforms Tayinat into an Assyrian provincial capital. This lecture will review the results of the ongoing Tayinat Archaeological Project investigations, and the historical insights they have provided to date.
Timothy P. Harrison is a professor in the Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations at the University of Toronto. He is also the President of the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR). He is the author of Cyprus, The Sea Peoples and the Eastern Mediterranean: Regional Perspectives of Change and Continuity (2008) and Megiddo III: Final Report of the Stratum VI Excavations (2004).
Public Lecture Theatre, Old Arts Building, University of Melbourne, Tuesday 19 April, 6:30 – The 2011 Marion Adams Memorial Lecture
Professor Emeritus Ronald Ridley, University of Melbourne
Everyone knows the story of the discovery of the famous boy pharaoh’s tomb in 1922. A much more difficult matter for the historian of archaeology is understanding the many people who made the discovery and then revealed and preserved the tomb’s contents. This lecture will focus on Lord Carnarvon, Howard Carter and Harry Burton, while celebrating also the other members of the team.
Ronald Ridley is Professor Emeritus in the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies at The University of Melbourne. An expert on Republican Roman history, he has also authored such diverse books as Napoleon’s Proconsul: the life and times of Bernardino Drovetti 1776-1852 (1998), The Pope’s archaeologist: the life and times of Carlo Fea (2000) and The Emperor’s retrospect: Augustus’ Res Gestae in epigraphy, historiography and commentary (2003).
The Antikythera Shipwreck: Dating its Treasures of Bronze, Gold and Marble
Prince Phillip Theatre, Architecture Building, University of Melbourne, Thursday 14 April, 6:30
In the cold current-swept waters off the tiny island of Antikythera, north of Crete, a Roman merchant ship lay undisturbed for over 2000 years. Its modern story began to unfold in 1900 when the crew of a Mediterranean sponge diving boat discovered the ancient wreck. Subsequent excavations revealed that the ship contained a rich cargo of bronze and marble statues, jewellery, weapons, furniture and other treasure, including an inauspicious object of corroded bronze and wood. The fragmentary device, now known as the Antikythera Mechanism, is a sophisticated and immensely complicated mechanical calculator. Its structure, function and purpose are only now being understood. The use of high-resolution imaging systems and three-dimensional X-ray tomography have enabled script analysts and computer experts to decipher inscriptions and reconstruct certain functions of the bronze gears. What we know now is that this unique survival of ancient Greek technology reflects science in action: mathematics, geometry, astronomy and mechanics.
This paper will consider a selection of the treasures recovered from the ship and present a summary of the history of the scientific research into the Antikythera Mechanism. New evidence in the form of several pieces of the unpublished gold jewellery will also be discussed. The most challenging area is the date of the mechanism itself, which parallels the date of the jewellery evidence.
Dr Monica Jackson FSA is a classical archaeologist, author and lecturer on ancient jewellery and the luxury arts. She specialises in the archaeology of the Mediterranean, Aegean and Black Sea areas, her particular area of research being the study of Hellenistic gold jewellery as chronological evidence. Monica is a Research Associate in the Department of Archaeology at The University of Sydney and has participated in excavations in Greece, Cyprus and further east. She has lectured extensively on jewellery and the luxury arts both in Australia and overseas.
Private and Public Lies: Book Launch and Reception
Ian Potter Museum of Art, 800 Swanston Street, The University of Melbourne, Wednesday 16 March, 5:30
K.O. Chong-Gossard, Andrew Turner and Frederik Vervaet of the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies at The University of Melbourne celebrated the launch of their new book Private and Public Lies: The Discourse of Despotism and Deceit in the Graeco-Roman World. These are the proceedings of the conference which the Classical Association of Victoria sponsored in 2008. The book was launched by Professor Glyn Davis, Vice Chancellor of The University of Melbourne.
CAV In-service Day
Melbourne Girls’ Grammar School, Friday 11 March, 8:45-3:00
Professional development for teachers of Classical Studies and Latin. Registration includes morning tea and luncheon.
Thinking About Kings
Prince Philip Theatre, Architecture Building, University of Melbourne, 6:30 on Wednesday 16 February
Prof Christopher Smith (British School at Rome)
We know a great deal about the way the Romans talked about their regal period, but we are deeply unsure of how to interpret or discuss this information. In this lecture Professor Smith will address directly some of the methods which have been used and argue that it is important to move beyond the current impasse. New archaeological material and different approaches offer an incentive to address once again this mysterious but important phase in Roman history.
Professor Christopher Smith, FSAS, FRHistS, FSA, is the director of the British School at Rome. His research has focused on the early development of Rome and Latium, the evolution of early republican institutions and Roman historiography. He is the author of Early Rome and Latium: Economy and Society c.1000 to 500 BC (Oxford, 1996) and The Roman Clan: The Gens from Ancient Ideology to Modern Anthropology (Cambridge, 2006).