Call for Papers: Winckelmann's Victims

Winckelmann’s Victims. The Classics: Norms, Exclusions and Prejudices

Ghent University (Belgium), 20-22 September 2018

CONFIRMED KEYNOTE SPEAKERS: Michelle Warren (University of Dartmouth) – Mark Vessey (University of British Columbia) – Irene Zwiep (University of Amsterdam)

“Der einzige Weg für uns, groß, ja, wenn
 es möglich ist, unnachahmlich zu werden, is
die Nachahmung der Alten.”
Johannes Winckelmann

Classics played a major and fundamental role in the cultural history of Western Europe. Few would call this into question. Since the Carolingian period, notably ‘classical’ literature has served as a constant source and model of creativity and inspiration, by which the literary identity of Europe has been negotiated and (re-)defined. The tendency to return to the classics and resuscitate them remains sensible until today, as classical themes and stories are central to multiple contemporary literary works, both in ‘popular’ and ‘high’ culture. Think for instance of Rick Riordan’s fantastic tales about Percy Jackson or Colm Tóibín’s refined novels retelling the Oresteia.

At the same time, this orientation and fascination towards the classics throughout literary history has often —implicitly or explicitly— gone hand in hand with the cultivation of a certain normativity, regarding aesthetics, content, decency, theory, … Classical works, and the ideals that were projected on them, have frequently been considered as the standard against which the quality of a literary work should be measured. Whether a text was evaluated as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ depended on the extent to which it could meet the ‘classical’ requirements. Probably the most famous example of someone advocating such a classical norm was the German art critic Johannes Winckelmann (1717-1768), whose death will be commemorated in 2018. His Geschichte der Kunst des Altertums may be considered as the embodiment of the idea that the classics should be the norm for aesthetic or even any evaluation, such as, in Western Europe, it has recurrently cropped up, to a greater or lesser degree, from the Early Middle Ages until modern times.

Almost inevitably, this normativity has implied, shaped and fed prejudices and thoughts of exclusion towards literary features and aesthetic characteristics that seemed to deviate from classical ideals. Throughout literary history, examples occur of literary works, styles and genres that were generally appreciated within their time or context of origin, yet whose quality was retrospectively called into question because they were said not to be in accordance with the classical norm as it prevailed at the moment of judgement. Sometimes, this has even applied to whole periods. The persistence of similar assessments up until today is telling for the impact classical normativity still exercises. Besides, literary texts, though clearly not created to conform to the ‘classical’ standard, have been ‘classicized’ during judgement, being forced by a critic to fit into a classical framework and celebrated for its so-called imitation of antiquity. Even the Classics themselves often had and have to obey to this process of ‘classicization’. Therefore, with a sense for drama, one could say that all these works, literary forms, periods, etc. have seriously ‘suffered’ from the prejudices born from classics-based normativity, being the ‘victims’ of Winckelmann-like ideas concerning ‘classical’ standards.

This conference aims to consider classical normativity with its including prejudices and exclusions as a case-study for cultural self-fashioning by way of European literature. It seeks to explore how the normative status ascribed to the classics and the ensuing prejudices have, from the Early Middle Ages to modern times, influenced and shaped thoughts and views of the literary identity of Western Europe. Therefore, we propose the following questions:

  • What are the processes behind this normativity of the Classics? Is it possible to discern a conceptual continuum behind the time and again revival of the Classics as the norm for ‘good’ literature? Or, rather, are there clear conceptual and concrete divergences between succeeding periods of such ‘classical’ normativity?
  • What are the links (conceptual, historical, aesthetic, political, …) between the normativity of the Classics and the excluded ones, both in synchronic and diachronic terms? How does literary normativity of the Classics imply literary prejudices and exclusions?
  • How has normativity of the Classics with its prejudices and exclusions imposed an identity on European literature (and literary culture)?
  • What does this normativity of the Classics with its prejudices and exclusions mean for the conceptualization of European literary history?

Besides these conceptual questions, we also welcome case studies that may illustrate both the concrete impact of classical normativity and concrete examples of prejudice and exclusion as resulting from this normativity. We think of topics such as

  • the Classics themselves as victims of retrospective ‘classical’ normativity
  • the exclusion of literary periods that are considered non- or even contra-classical (baroque, medieval, …) and the clash with non-European literature
  • literary ‘renaissances’ and their implications
  • classical normativity and its impact on literatures obedient to political aims (fascism, populism, …)
  • literary appeal to the classics as a way of structuring and (re-)formulating society (‘higher’ liberal arts vs. ‘lower’ crafts and proficiencies, literary attitudes towards slavery, …)

We accept papers in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish. Please send an abstract of ca. 300 words and a five line biography to relics@ugent.be by 15 April 2018.

ORGANISATION: Wim Verbaal, Paolo Felice Sacchi and Tim Noens are members of the research group RELICS (Researchers of European Literary Identities, Cosmopolitanism and the Schools). This research group studies historical literatures and the dynamics that shape a common, European literary identity. It sees this literary identity as particularly negotiated through languages that reached a cosmopolitan status due to fixed schooling systems (Latin, Greek and Arabic), and in their interaction with vernacular literatures. From a diachronic perspective, we aim to seek unity within the ever more diverse, literary Europe, from the first to the eighteenth century, i.e. from the beginning of (institutionally organized) education in the cosmopolitan language to the rise of more national oriented education.

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

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MISSION

The Career Enhancement Fellowship Program seeks to increase the presence of minority junior faculty members and other faculty members committed to eradicating racial disparities in core fields in the arts and humanities. The Fellowship, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, supports the Mellon Foundation's mission to strengthen, promote, and, where necessary, defend the contributions of the humanities and the arts to human flourishing and to the well-being of diverse and democratic societies.

ABOUT THE PROGRAM

The Fellowship, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, provides each Fellow with a six-month or one-year sabbatical grant; a research, travel, or publication stipend; and participation in an annual conference/retreat. A total of 30 Fellowships are awarded each year.

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Wed, 09/19/2018 - 10:10am by Erik Shell.

Animal/Language: An Interdisciplinary Conference

In conjunction with the art exhibition “Assembling Animal Communication” Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX
21-23 March 2019

Animals and language have a complicated relationship with one another in human understanding. Every period of history evinces a fascination with the diverse modes of communicative exchange and possibilities of linguistic community that exist both within and between species. Recent critics of anthropocentrism are far from the first to question the supposed muteness of the “dumb animal” and its ontological and ethical ramifications. Various cultures have historically attributed language to animals, and we have developed an increasingly sophisticated scientific understanding of the complex non-verbal communicative systems that animals use among themselves. New research complements millennia of human-animal communication in the contexts of work, play, and domestic life.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Mon, 09/17/2018 - 1:59pm by Erik Shell.

The presence of Plotinus: The self, contemplation, and spiritual exercise in the Enneads

Poznań, Poland, 9th-10th June 2020
An international conference organized by the Scientific Committee on Ancient Culture of the Polish Academy of Sciences and the Department of Classical Studies of  Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań

In the center of “The School of Athens”, the famous fresco by Raphael, we can see Plato and Aristotle, the two philosophers who may indeed have been the greatest thinkers of antiquity. However, the scholarly endeavor of the last century has demonstrated with increasing consistency that Plotinus – although his name and legacy are not so popular – could well stand next to them, especially so because he attempted to synthetize the views of those great masters of the past. His presence in  Western philosophy was, perhaps a more silent one, but also very influential. Since Late Antiquity, Christian, Jewish and Muslim philosophers were inspired by him as well as Renaissance Platonists and German idealists. In year 2020, 1750 years will have passed by since his solitary death in a Campanian villa or, in his view, since his final ascent from “the divine in us to the divine in the All”. On this occasion, we want to celebrate Plotinus’ presence by organizing an international conference.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Mon, 09/17/2018 - 9:48am by Erik Shell.
Rebecca Futo Kennedy teaching in Rome. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Futo Kennedy.

A Day in the Life of a Classicist is a monthly column on the SCS blog written by Prof. Ayelet Haimson Lushkov celebrating the working lives of classicists. If you’d like to share your day, let us know here.

Rebecca Futo Kennedy is Associate Professor of Classics and Administrative Director, Denison Museum

Since being tenured in 2015, I have actually held two separate positions at my university - professor of Classics and director of the Denison Museum. As a result, my time is now split between the department and the museum (and, if you have to ask - no, I had no experience running a museum before they asked me to do it, and, no, I don’t intend to do it forever; I’d like to go back to full-time teaching someday). So, my average day(s) look something like this:


Rebecca Futo Kennedy teaching students. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Futo Kennedy.
Rebecca Futo Kennedy with students. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Futo Kennedy.

View full article. | Posted in on Thu, 09/13/2018 - 10:40am by Ayelet Haimson Lushkov.

The Institute for the Study of the Ancient World will hold a conference, co-hosted by the SCS, on digital pedagogy:

"Digital resources have become an essential part of studying the languages, history, and material culture of the Ancient Mediterranean. This one-day conference looks at how this disciplinary turn is being integrated into both undergraduate and graduate courses. There will be sustained attention during the day on current practice in recent courses, and the speakers all have considerable teaching experience. Speakers will also address the goals of using digital methods, tools and resources in a wide range of pedagogic and institutional settings. Digital approaches to teaching do not merely replicate earlier methods so that new possibilities for the expanding the scope of curricula will be an important topic. The day will end with a panel discussion and we will welcome input from all who are in attendance."

The conference will take place at their New York headquarters on October 26th, 2018 beginning at 9:15am. To see the full schedule and RSVP you can visit the conference webpage here.

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View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Wed, 09/12/2018 - 11:08am by Erik Shell.
CFP: Failure and Flaws in Classical Antiquity
January 25-26, 2019, UCLA
 
In the poem “Failing and Flying”, Jack Gilbert appeals to classical imagery to reconfigure the notion of failure: “Icarus was not failing as he fell,” the poem concludes, “but only coming to the end of his triumph.” Throughout antiquity, numerous forms of literary and material culture, as well as forms of reception, have grappled with real or imagined failure and flaws. The concept of failure is especially pressing because modern society persistently looks back to antiquity’s failures in order to understand its own. By interrogating the use and meaning of failure both within classical works and in discussions about canon, genre, and reception, we aim to explore the interpretive value of failure for our understanding of the classical world.
 
View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Tue, 09/11/2018 - 2:29pm by Erik Shell.
"Empty Theatre (almost)"by Kevin Jaako, licensed under CC BY 2.0

Oedipus: A Greek Tragedy by Sophocles

Director: Donna L. Clevinger
Date: 6:00pm on Tuesday, September 25 & Wednesday, September 26
Location: Griffis Hall Courtyard in Zacharias Village

Oedipus

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(Photo: "Empty Theatre (almost)" by Kevin Jaako, licensed under CC BY 2.0)

View full article. | Posted in Performances on Tue, 09/11/2018 - 12:02pm by Erik Shell.
Header Image: Detail of a fresco from the Temple of Isis, representing a sea dragon and a dolphin, 1st century AD (Fourth Style), Museu Nacional, Brazil (Image via Wikimedia under a CC-BY-SA 4.0).

Last Thursday, I began class with a caveat, “The class today will be really tough to deliver...” And it was. It was the first time I had taught after the fire and destruction of Brazil’s National Museum, and it was a particularly hard and ironic moment.

I’m teaching a topic on Pompeii, so when classes started, a month ago, I mentioned to my students that there were some frescoes and items from Pompeii at the National Museum, located in a park in central Rio de Janeiro which used to be the imperial family’s property in the nineteenth century. The collection was part of the dowry from empress Teresa Cristina of Bourbon, daughter of the king of the Two Sicilies, a gift that was particularly in tune with the interest that emperor Dom Pedro II had in history and sciences.

Together with objects such as Greek and Etruscan pottery and terracottas, and some Egyptian mummies (including a rare unopened one), the collection was the biggest for Antiquity in Latin America, but not many people were aware of it. The museum, home also to extensive collections in ethnography, paleontology, zoology and geology, happened to have less visitors last year than the number of privileged Brazilians who visited the Louvre. When I asked my History undergrads in our first class whether they had ever visited the National Museum, they all said “no”.

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 09/10/2018 - 3:54pm by Juliana Bastos Marques.

Poetics and politics. New approaches to Euripides

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Mon, 09/10/2018 - 1:43pm by Erik Shell.

We wanted to update you on some upcoming prize, award, and nomination deadlines:

Outreach Prize

The Outreach Prize of the Society for Classical Studies (SCS) recognizes outstanding projects or events by an SCS member or members that make an aspect of classical antiquity available and attractive to an audience other than classics scholars or students in their courses.

The deadline for nominations is September 14.

Forum Prize

The Forum Prize - presented by the the SCS Committee on Public Information and Media Relations - recognizes outstanding contributions to public engagement made by non-academic works about the ancient Greek and Roman world. It empowers the SCS to build bridges with a broader public by rewarding the best public-facing essays, books, poems, articles, podcasts, films, and art produced each year by someone (either a classicist or a non-classicist) working primarily outside of the academy.

Deadline for nomination is October 1. You can nominate a person or project here.

Excellence in Precollegiate Teaching Award

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Mon, 09/10/2018 - 11:22am by Erik Shell.

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