Call for Papers: The Impact of Learning Greek, Hebrew, and 'Oriental' Languages

THE IMPACT OF LEARNING GREEK, HEBREW, AND ‘ORIENTAL’ LANGUAGES ON SCHOLARSHIP, SCIENCE, AND SOCIETY IN THE MIDDLE AGES AND THE RENAISSANCE

LECTIO INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE
13-15 December 2017
UNIVERSITY OF LEUVEN (BELGIUM)

In 1517, Leuven witnessed the foundation of the Collegium Trilingue. This institute, funded through the legacy of Hieronymus Busleyden and enthusiastically promoted by Desiderius Erasmus, offered courses in the three ‘sacred’ languages Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. The initiative was not the only of its kind in the early 16th century. Ten years earlier, the first Collegium Trilingue had been established in the Spanish Catholic collegium of San Ildefonso, and similar institutes and language chairs were soon to follow. By the end of 1518, the university of Wittenberg offered courses of Hebrew, Greek, and Latin in the regular curriculum, whereas in 1530 king Francis I founded his Collège Royal in Paris after the model of the Louvain Collegium Trilingue. This fascination with Greek and Hebrew did not come out of nowhere, but had its roots in Renaissance Italy, whence it gradually disseminated to other parts of Europe. Moreover, it should be borne in mind that, as early as the beginning of the 14th century, the Council of Vienne had authorized and encouraged the foundation of professorships in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Arabic at four universities (Bologna, Oxford, Paris, and Salamanca), mainly in order to convert Jews, Muslims, and Oriental Christians to the ‘true’ faith. The council and Italian Humanism thus testify to the fact that enthusiasm for learning Greek and ‘Oriental’ (nowadays: Semitic) languages, next to Latin, among Western-European scholars and clergymen clearly predates the 16th century.

What is more, the Humanist connection explains why, even though the study of Greek, Hebrew, and other ‘Oriental’ languages was largely sparked by theological concerns, institutes such as the Leuven Collegium Trilingue reserved a prominent place for pagan (especially Greek and Latin) literature in their curricula as well. Moreover, also the special connection between the study of ancient Greek at institutes like the Collegium Trilingue and the legal practice and thought cannot be overlooked. In the early 16th century, indeed, Greek was the language of the new political and legal ideas. For jurist Reuchlin it was not an ancient language, but the tongue of Constantinople. Then, in the course of the 16th century, Greek culture was reduced to a pre-Christian culture because of its destabilization of Western Christianity, and to an old ‘democratic’ culture because of the influence of Greek imperialism on Western absolutism – a reduction to which also the Collegium Trilingue contributed. Hence, it weighted on legal studies, through professors as Puteanus, who wrote about law and politics. Law professors as Gérard de Courcelles had taught Greek at the Trilingue; Valerius Andreas had studied at this school; Tuldenus attached great importance to Greek literature as well. However, the Greek letters of the Louvain jurists had little to do with love of Antiquity. The study of the Greek language was neutral, and it allowed one to stay in touch with the heritage of Constantinople, which was slowly being absorbed into Western culture.

This year’s LECTIO conference will seize the 500th anniversary of the foundation of the Leuven Collegium Trilingue as an incentive both to examine the general context in which such polyglot institutes emerged and—more generally—to assess the overall impact of Greek and Hebrew education. Our focus is not exclusively on the 16th century, as we also welcome papers dealing with the status and functions accorded to Greek, Hebrew, and other ‘Oriental’ languages in the (later) Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period up to 1750. Special attention will be directed to the learning and teaching practices and to the general impact the study of these languages exerted on scholarship, science and society. We therefore look forward to receiving abstracts offering answers to the following questions, inter multa alia:

* What was the interrelationship between the Early Modern initiatives offering education in the three biblical languages, such as the 1508 Spanish Collegium Trilingue, the 1517 Leuven institute, the 1518 Wittenberg program, and the 1530 establishment of the Collège Royal? What is the connection, if any, between the 16th-century establishment of language chairs and the Late Medieval interest in these languages? To what extent are we informed about the teaching practices conducted in these institutes and universities, and about the learning of Greek and ‘Oriental’ languages in Western Europe before the 14th century? How did the institutes impact on university curricula?

* What significance was accorded to ‘antiquity’ and the classical tradition in the Colleges of the Three Tongues, in relation to the interest in biblical literature? To what extent can the confessionalization model be applied to the study of Greek and Hebrew in Catholic, Lutheran, and Reformed regions? Whereas the Council of Vienne clearly aimed at “propagating the saving faith among the heathen peoples” (Decrees, 24), the 16th-century humanists had for the most part much less explicit missionary goals with their study of ‘Oriental’ languages. What were their aims, and how did they strike out on this new course? What is the link, if any, with the several polyglot Bibles appearing in Europe in the 16th century?

* Despite the original hostility towards the polyglot institutes out of religious concerns, the study of Greek and Hebrew ultimately found acceptance rather quickly after about one generation, also among Catholic theologians. What circumstances explain and stimulated this process of acceptance? Who were the main protagonists and adversaries in it? Are there abiding differences among the various confessions in Europe regarding the degree they embraced the study of these languages?

* It is often argued that champions of Greek and Hebrew had to overcome several burdens. Not only did students of both languages risk to be suspected of heterodox beliefs, but they also had to surmount material hindrances, since only a minority of publishers were willing to invest in Greek and Hebrew font sets. To what extent can these claims be substantiated? What part did polyglot editions, such as those printed in Alcalà, Antwerp and Paris, play in this?

* How did the study of Hebrew and Greek affect the study and status of Latin? To what extent did the significance attached to both languages stimulate the study of vernacular languages and other ‘Oriental’ languages, such as Aramaic, Syriac, and Arabic? A number of scholars even felt confident enough to compose texts in Greek, Hebrew, and other ‘Oriental’ languages themselves: in what contexts and for what purposes did they do so?

* The study of Greek, Hebrew, and other ‘Oriental’ languages was often pursued by scholars interested in both law and sciences, such as medicine, biology, astronomy, and geography. How did the study of these languages impact on these disciplines and what was the concomitant societal effect? In what way, e.g., did Greek legal thought mark both the Protestant law faculties and the legal rationalism that originated in that world? How did Greek studies contribute to the Law Faculty’s renewed contacts with the Calvinist countries and enabled it to play a foundational part in the development of the legal doctrine, which Pufendorf would turn into ‘Natural Law’ in 1661?

Participants are asked to give 20-minute papers in English, German or French. To submit a proposal, please send an abstract of approximately 300 words (along with your name, academic affiliation and contact information) to lectio@kuleuven.be by 30 April, 2017. Notification of acceptance will be given by 20 May, 2017.
The publication of selected papers is planned in a volume to be included in the peer-reviewed LECTIO Series (Brepols Publishers).

Invited speakers
Luigi-Alberto Sanchi (Institut d’Histoire du Droit Paris)
Saverio Campanini (Università di Bologna)

Venue of the Conference
The Leuven Institute for Ireland in Europe, Janseniusstraat 1, 3000 Leuven

Organizing committee
Wim François, Erika Gielen, Jan Papy, Toon Van Hal, Pierre Van Hecke, Raf Van Rooy, Laurent Waelkens

CONTACT
LECTIO KU Leuven
Faculties of Arts, Law, Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies
Blijde-Inkomststraat 5
3000 Leuven
BELGIUM

+32 16 32 87 35
lectio@kuleuven.be
www.kuleuven.be/lectio

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(Photo: "Handwritten" by A. Birkan, licensed under CC BY 2.0)

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Call for Papers
October 13, 2018.
University of Florida, Gainesville, FL.

Second University of Florida Classics Graduate Student Symposium

NATURA/φύσις vs. ARS/τέχνη: Artificial vs. Natural, in the Ancient World and Beyond

The development of ancient civilizations, reflected today in their literary, artistic, and architectural artifacts, was made possible by several scientific and technological advances. Aimed at improving the human condition, and enhanced by the philosophical observation of the natural world, ancient technologies gradually allowed for human habitation and expansion, and opened new avenues to artistic creation. Whether in the form of grand irrigation systems, harbors and ships, road systems, or city walls, ancient societies dynamically manifested their will to control the natural environment. Viewed, in contrast, as a domain of the divine, nature held an ambiguous position in the imagination of ancient peoples: it could be both hostile and propitious. In the realms of artistic and scientific invention, human creations are in constant dialogue with nature, trying either to imitate it, with varying levels of success, or to surpass it in perfection.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Thu, 05/24/2018 - 12:54pm by Erik Shell.

Remembering Antonia Syson (1973–2018)

As readers may have learned from an earlier posting, Antonia Syson, associate professor of Classics at Purdue University, died on March 25, 2018. Her death was the outcome of inflammatory breast cancer, diagnosed only a few months prior. Here we retrace Antonia’s academic path and describe some of the qualities that made her an inspiring friend, colleague, scholar, and teacher. (Prepared by James Ker, Erin Moodie, Melissa Mueller, and Jennifer William, with contributions from Lucy Gaster, Lydia Syson, Christine Albright, Shadi Bartsch-Zimmer, Julia Davids, Nicholas Dew, William Fitzgerald, Katherine Ibbett, Jo Park, Anna Lawrence Pietroni, Josephine Crawley Quinn, Allen Romano, Oliver Taplin, James Tatum, and Christopher van den Berg.)

View full article. | Posted in In Memoriam on Wed, 05/23/2018 - 11:09am by Erik Shell.

In my first presidential letter, right after the annual meeting last January, I wrote about the need to consider not only where we meet, but at what time of year. This letter addresses the first question; I will write separately about the other one.

When I wrote my previous letter, we had already signed contracts for meetings through 2024, and since then we have signed another for 2025; the details are here. So, no immediate change is possible, but we still must move quickly since we have to make decisions that far in advance in order to get the venues we want, when we want them, and at an affordable price. It will soon be time to sign a contract for 2026, no matter where, or on what specific days we want to meet.

With that in mind, I wish I could say there are no other constraints, but in reality there are some powerful ones. Apologies to those who already know all of this, but from talking to quite a few members over recent months, I’ve got the impression that explaining the basic issues might be beneficial.

The first point is very simple, but very important:

SCS members and AIA members agree that they want SCS and AIA to continue holding a Joint Annual Meeting.

View full article. | Posted in Presidential Letters on Wed, 05/23/2018 - 9:24am by Erik Shell.
Close-up of the statue base of “Silent Sam” on campus at UNC-Chapel Hill with ink and blood running down (Image by permission of the Workers Union at UNC-CH).

On April 30th 2018, Maya Little, a graduate student in the Department of History at UNC-Chapel Hill, was arrested after covering the Confederate statue known as “Silent Sam” in a mixture of red ink and her own blood. The monument has stood in a prominent position on UNC’s campus since its dedication in 1913, but has for years been the object of debate and protests, which have intensified since the national push to remove confederate statues following the events in Charlottesville, Virginia. Funded by the Daughters of the Confederacy and a group of UNC alumni, “Silent Sam” was originally dedicated as a tribute to UNC students who lost their lives fighting for the Confederacy in the Civil War, though like many such statues, it was erected during the Jim Crow era decades after the war had ended.

View full article. | Posted in on Sun, 05/20/2018 - 4:22pm by .

Ruth Scodel, SCS delegate to the American Council of Learned Societies, has written up her report of the annual ACLS meeting.

You can read her full report below:

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The most important news from this year’s meeting of ACLS may be from the president’s report: the organization is financially healthy.

For the Thursday evening session there was a panel about free speech in the academy (“The Contested Campus”).  Leon Botstein was a member of this panel.  Of course the other speakers were interesting and distinguished people —Judith Shapiro, the president of Teagle; Jerry Kang, a UCLA law professor and the first vice-chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion; Ben Vinson, soon to be provost at Case Western, Botstein dominated, as I suspect he does in any event in which he participates. Never having seen the Botstein show, I was fascinated.  The panel considered two related problems—how difficult it can be to have even serious speakers from the right, and how hard it can be to manage the provocateurs who have nothing worth hearing like Yiannopoulos.  Botstein was furious over complaints that a conference at the Arendt Center had included Marc Jongen, especially since Jongen’s respondent was Ian Buruma. 

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Fri, 05/18/2018 - 3:16pm by Erik Shell.
Photo of newly reopened murals in the Domus Augusti by Agnes Crawford.

In a photo essay, Roman tour guide and classicist Agnes Crawford spoke to the SCS Blog about the newly reopened House of Augustus on the Palatine, which was uncovered by archaeologists in the early 1960s. Although it underwent extensive renovations for the events surrounding the  2000th anniversary of Augustus' death in 2014, other portions have now been reopened to the public in time for the summer crowds. Crawford also comments on the myriad restoration projects going on in Rome, Pompeii, and elsewhere in Italy. Together, these initiatives are bringing the color and grandeur of the ancient world back to life within Italy. 





"Coffered" painted ceiling in the newly reopened House of Augustus on the Palatine in Rome. Image by Agnes Crawford and used by permission.

Bond: What is new about the casa di augusto?

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 05/18/2018 - 6:33am by Agnes Crawford.

The deadline for nominations for the SCS Awards for Excellence in the Teaching of Classics at the College Level is June 1, 2018.

You can find more information about the award and nomination process here.

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(Photo: "library" by Viva Vivanista, licensed under CC BY 2.0)

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Thu, 05/17/2018 - 10:41am by Erik Shell.
Mizzou

The SCS has learned from Anatole Mori that the Department of Ancient Mediterranean Studies Graduate Program at the University of Missouri will not be discontinued.

Here is her full statement:

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Thu, 05/17/2018 - 8:23am by Erik Shell.

(Written by Robert Gurval and David Blank)

Ann L.T. Bergren

The Department [at UCLA] sadly announces the passing of Professor Emerita Ann L.T. Bergren. Ann died suddenly at her home in Venice on May 10, 2018. She is survived by her son and his wife, Taylor Bergren-Chrisman and Erin O’Connor, and grandchildren Foxberg and Otto Chrisman. There will be a private family service in Brooklyn, New York. The Department and family will celebrate her life at a special occasion in October. The Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington D.C. is also making plans to hold an academic event in her honor later this fall (Professors Gregory Nagy and Laura Slatkin, co-organizers). Further announcements will be posted on this website. As Ann was fond of saying, to be continued.

View full article. | Posted in In Memoriam on Wed, 05/16/2018 - 3:18pm by Erik Shell.

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