Ancient Greek and Roman Painting and the Digital Humanities
6th-8th August, 2018 at Tufts University
It is widely known that ancient Greek painting was mostly passed down to us through textual sources. These texts of ancient Greek or Latin authors, mostly dated from the 1st to the 2nd centuries CE, such as Pliny the Elder, Pausanias or Philostratus, offer a valuable testimony which enables us to establish the (partial) history of ancient Greek painting since its beginnings. Of course, these texts do not teach us everything we would like to know about ancient painting, because in the absence of the paintings themselves it is very difficult to write a history of painting that is devoid of suppositions or educated guesses. Yet, archeology has provided and still provides us with valuable information, on the one hand in terms of iconography (in particular through vase painting, but also from wall paintings and floor mosaics) and on the other hand on the techniques used for the treatment of color, thanks to the recent discoveries of Macedonian burial painting. This material can be compared to the texts and confirm or invalidate what ancient authors tell us about painting: names of painters, techniques, title and subject of the works, location of these works, under which circumstances these works were commissioned etc. Much more than trying to reconstruct paintings that are lost forever, the texts, compared to the iconographic and archaeological material we possess, make it possible to place these paintings in their historical and cultural context. This is the challenge of the Digital Milliet: to go back, once again, through the Greek and Latin texts on painting assembled in early twentieth-century collections, following the example of the Recueil Milliet, published by Salomon Reinach in 1921, as well as to compare them with the most recent archaeological findings and historiographical research in order to offer a fresh approach and a new reading of these texts, often known only to specialists.
Creating a corpus of texts devoted to a particular subject is in itself not completely new; however, a corpus supported by digital technology is such indeed, offering an undeniable working flexibility, especially since it is possible to update the data often in a digital collection. The Digital Milliet is the result of two years of work and currently offers some fifty texts devoted to ancient painting, to which images and "keywords" have been added, allowing for the creation of thematic collections.
The conference we are proposing will have as its starting point the Digital Milliet seen as a working tool, and will connect Digital Humanities with Art History. Therefore, this conference has two parts, each of which has a distinct focal point. The first part will be devoted to methodology and digital tools, aiming to provide an overview of the means and methods of research in Ancient Art History. In other words, how do we make Art History in the digital era, when the abundance of data dominates? What tools and methods should we consider? What kind of applications should we envision for digital resources? What are the inputs from a database such as the Digital Milliet?
The second part will be devoted to questions raised by the creation of the Digital Millet, and more broadly to the place texts occupy in Ancient Art History when they are confronted with material sources: what do these texts teach us and what do they not teach us? This section will also be devoted to historiographical questions, and particularly to the choices made by Adolphe Reinach in the process of interpreting the texts (readings of the ancient text, notes, translations) in his original edition of the Recueil Milliet. Therefore, it will be necessary to put the Recueil Milliet in its own historical context in order to get a better understanding of it that goes beyond the mere re-representation of the texts that are gathered in this corpus.
Abstracts should be 350-500 words in length, including a short bibliography (1 page maximum). We welcome research papers on the below mentioned themes but not limited to:
- digital tools in Art History and/or Classical Studies
- methodologies in the digital era
- education, pedagogy
- a case study of a work, a text, or a group of texts.
- new archaeological data, iconographic interpretation, comparison with texts.
-new readings of texts, fresh understanding of their vocabulary in connection to archaeological data.
The deadline for proposals is Friday 16 February 2018. The proposed papers should be sent by e-mail to the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Decisions will be made in April 2018.