CFP: Contact, Colonialism, and Comparison

Call for Papers, “Contact, Colonialism, and Comparison” Conference

Different methods of ‘comparing antiquities’ do or do not presuppose the existence of contact between the civilizations they compare, or else weigh differently the importance of contact to the work of comparison. Underlying these differences are methodological questions like: to what extent, and in what ways, the history of contact between different civilizations plays a role in the work of comparison? To what extent the fact of contact between two civilizations legitimates their comparison? How the aims and methods of comparison differ in cases where contact has or has not taken place? More subtly, how should the intellectual history of contact in later periods of a region’s history affect how we do comparative work on earlier periods of that history?

These questions are particularly urgent in the case of comparison between the early Americas and Greco-Roman antiquity, where the practice of “comparing antiquities” has a long history as an intellectual tool of colonialism. Early missionaries, both Spanish and Mexican, used the texts of Classical Antiquity to dismiss as primitive the beliefs and practices of Indigenous peoples. Under the influence of racial theories inherited from the authors of classical antiquity, colonial intellectuals used comparison between the Mediterranean and tropical climates as grounds for racist generalization aimed at dehumanizing Indigenous peoples. Both assertions of similarity between the Americas and the Greco-Roman world and assertions of difference have been put in the service of colonizers’ arguments.

This conference, then, aims to think through the methodological implications of the intellectual history of contact for the modern-day academic study of Comparative Antiquity between the early Americas and the Greco-Roman world. What can the intellectual history of contact between Spanish invaders and Indigenous populations teach us about the possible methodological pitfalls of comparativism? In what ways should the history of contact affect the comparative methodologies we bring to bear on the study of American and Greco-Roman antiquities? What forms of comparison that avoid complicity with colonialist analogy are possible? How can scholars strive to make comparisons on equal terms, while acknowledging the treatment different cultures have received at the hands of intellectuals over the centuries?

To this end we invite papers from any discipline that tackle the intellectual history of contact between Spanish invaders and Indigenous populations (especially claims of analogy between pre-Christian Greco-Roman antiquity, and the pre-Christian Americas), papers that tackle methodological questions in the study of Comparative American and Greco-Roman antiquity, and papers engaged in this work of comparison with an eye to its broader political and historical context. We hope that this marriage of intellectual history, theoretical speculation, and comparative work can help scholars of many disciplines think critically and specifically about the ethical and methodological questions implicated in the work of comparison.

The conference will be held virtually from April 16-17, 2021. Papers will be pre-circulated, and each paper session will be led by a respondent before moving into a group discussion. The deadline for submissions is Tuesday, December 15, 2020. Please submit an anonymized, 200-300 word abstract to antiquityintheamericas@gmail.com. For more information about Antiquity in the Americas, including past events and current projects, visit https://www.antiquityintheamericas.com/.

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NEH Public Scholars Grant (December 15, 2021 Deadline)

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) invites applications for the 2021-22 round of the Public Scholars program, which supports the creation of well-researched nonfiction books in the humanities written for the broad public. The program welcomes projects in all areas of the humanities, regardless of geographic or chronological focus. The resulting books might present a narrative history, tell the stories of important individuals, analyze significant texts, provide a synthesis of ideas, revive interest in a neglected subject, or examine the latest thinking on a topic. Books supported by this program must be written in a readily accessible style, must clearly explain specialized terms and concepts, and must frame their topics to have wide appeal. They should also be carefully researched and authoritative, making appropriate use of primary and/or secondary sources and showing appropriate familiarity with relevant existing publications or scholarship. Applications to write books directed primarily to professional scholars are not suitable.

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Wed, 11/03/2021 - 2:09pm by Erik Shell.

(Re)Ordering the Gods. The Mythographic Web through Times

Warburg Institute, 25-26 November 2021

Free online workshop (register HERE for the Zoom link)

Organiser: Céline Bohnert (U. Reims, Warburg Institute Visiting Fellow)

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Wed, 11/03/2021 - 10:47am by Erik Shell.

We are writing to share the Call for Proposals for The Routledge Companion to Publicly Engaged Humanities Scholarship, a new edited volume on theories and practices of the publicly engaged humanities to be published in 2023 by Routledge. 

The core of this companion will consist of 25 wide-ranging, practice-based essays, exploring the history, concepts, and possible futures of publicly engaged humanities scholarship in the United States. To build a foundation for these futures, this volume will collect case studies grounding discussion of their methodologies and objectives. 

The project meets an acute need in the field of publicly engaged humanities scholarship, and we hope it will serve as a standard reference guide for future training in a higher education context. 

Following an introduction to the field and its history and methods, the volume will be organized around five areas of particular impact in public humanities scholarship: 

  1. Informing contemporary debates

  2. Amplifying community voices and histories

  3. Helping individuals and communities navigate difficult experiences

  4. Preserving culture in times of crisis and change

  5. Expanding educational access

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Wed, 11/03/2021 - 9:46am by Erik Shell.

Crete/Patras Ancient Emotions IV
An International Digital Workshop on Rethinking Ancient Emotions

November 23-24, 2021

[If you wish to attend, please contact jointly George Kazantzidis
(gkazantzidis@upatras.gr) and Dimos Spatharas (spatharasd@gmail.com)
between 16 and 22 November
2021]

Programme

Tuesday, November 23
Session I. Rethinking the History of Ancient Emotions
16.00* (Athens time)
Douglas Cairns
“Why is there a history of emotions?”
16.45
David Konstan
“Between appraisal theory and basic emotions: How to do the history of
emotion.”
17.30
Chiara Thumiger
“Gates, towers and trenches: history of emotions and the definition of
‘human’”.
18.15-18.30 Break

Session II. Emotion Concepts and the Language of Emotions
18.30
Christopher Gill
“Stoic typologies of emotions: Universalism and ethical standpoint.”
19.15
Catherine Edwards
“Fire and flood: image and emotion in Roman Stoic thought.”
20.00-20.15 Break
20.15
Peter Singer
“Exotic and familiar, medicine and philosophy, emotions and
non-emotions.”

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Wed, 11/03/2021 - 9:43am by Erik Shell.
An oil painting set in front of rust-colored rocks. A woman in pink drapery with her head covered approaches from a higher rock with her arms outstretched. Below, a woman in yellow and green, next to a man in black, reaches up towards her.

I recently taught the troubling Homeric Hymn to Demeter in my Classical Myth course at Bucknell. On the one hand, this hymn is a story of violence. Three quarters into the hymn, readers find Hades “sitting in the bed with his bashful, very unwilling, wife who yearned for her mother” (μενον ν λεχέεσσι σν αδοί παρακοίτι, | πόλλ εκαζομέν μητρς πόθ, 343–344). As Jermaine Bryant and Ship of Theses have recently discussed on Twitter, this scene is clear evidence that Hades has sexually assaulted Persephone. On the other hand, the text presents perplexing information about this violence. At the hymn’s opening, the narrator juxtaposes Hades’ kidnapping of Persephone with a reminder that “loud-thundering wide-eyed Zeus gave” her to Hades (ἣν Ἀιδωνεὺς | ἥρπαξεν, δῶκεν δὲ βαρύκτυπος εὐρύοπα Ζεύς, 2–3).  How are we then to understand the role of Zeus, Persephone’s father, in her abduction?

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 11/01/2021 - 9:51am by .
Stone relief in which the body of a child lies on a couch, surrounded by people in various gestures of mourning.

In the modern world, we are confronted with questions surrounding gender daily, from pronouns in our email signatures to gender-neutral bathrooms. Our awareness of the limitations of a gender binary and gendered roles continues to grow in an effort to reflect gender identity and expression more accurately. Despite these efforts and realizations about our own society, when discussing the Roman world, we often assume a gender binary that is inflexible and constant. By examining cases from Roman social life in which gender plays a fundamental role, we can see a wider spectra of gender expression that falls outside of the strict male/female binary. The Roman funeral, in particular, provides a special opportunity to consider how, even when roles are gendered, gender can be transgressed.

The transitional apparatus of the Roman funeral allowed and even encouraged performative undermining of norms. The liminality of the funeral space, in which the living ushered the deceased from their world to the world of the dead, provided a unique setting that demanded a break from norms. This included gender norms, and Roman funerals served as spaces in which normative expectations around gender were both reproduced and subverted. At funerals, men and women had specific jobs according to gender, but those roles often fell outside typical gender expression expectations.

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 10/25/2021 - 10:30am by .
A white circle on a black background with green leaves and white flowers. Around the circle is a yellow vine border, and in the middle there is a palm tree. On the left side of the tree, an abstract figure in drapery stands, and on the right side, a simil

As I strolled one day in the old center of Tel Aviv, I entered the house of Haim Nachman Bialik, the Hebrew national poet. An imposing building, it constitutes a manifesto of Jewish art in the early 20th century: the architectural style reprises oriental shapes, alternating arches and square forms; the decoration aims to express a quintessentially Jewish art. As I daydreamed about the poet holding private meetings and public receptions with the foremost representatives of culture and politics of his day, my eye was caught by two decorative tiles. These tiles, located at opposite ends of an arch that leads into the salon, represent two opposite moments of Jewish history: on one hand, a tile reproduces the Judaea capta coin minted by Vespasian after the First Jewish War; on the other, another tile mirrors Vespasian’s coin, proclaiming, in Hebrew letters, “Judaea liberated.”

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 10/22/2021 - 12:13pm by .

Dear members,

We have a number of deadlines that fall prior to mid-November. Please see the following:

October 31: Nominations for the Forum Prize

November 1: Applications for annual meeting participation stipends and childcare / dependent care funding

November 1: Nominations and applications for the K-12 Teaching Excellence Award

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Thu, 10/21/2021 - 11:40am by Erik Shell.
A bronze bust of a man with short, wavy hair and a slightly pained expression on his face.

The Seleucid empire has long stood on the fringes of Classical scholarship. Following the conquest of the east by Alexander, the vast, multicultural construction lasted from 312–64 BCE, stretching from modern Turkey south to the Levantine coast and east into Afghanistan. Interdisciplinary by its very nature, Seleucid history straddles the boundaries of academic disciplines, languages, and methodologies, further fragmenting the study of an already fractured power. Recent holistic studies are rare, making the 2014 publication of Paul Kosmin’s comprehensive The Land of the Elephant Kings something of a groundbreaking study. The examination of what Kosmin calls the “territorialization” of the empire—the ideological constructions and experiences that bounded, ordered, and defined the imperial realms—changed the nature of Seleucid studies by intensifying the focus of the recent “spatial turn” in the humanities.

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 10/18/2021 - 9:53am by .

(From the Classics Department at Princeton)

View full article. | Posted in In Memoriam on Fri, 10/15/2021 - 9:14am by Erik Shell.

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