CFP: Reframing Wisdom Literature

Reframing Wisdom Literature: Problematising Literary and Religious Interactions in Ancient Wisdom Texts 

Postgraduate Conference
Department of Classics, King’s College London, 30th-31st May 2019 
 
Keynote speaker: Prof. Dimitri Gutas, Yale University 
Organisers: Sara De Martin and Anna Lucia Furlan

Introduction 

The label ‘wisdom literature’ has been a focus of contemporary scholarly debate centring on issues of categorisation and definition. In particular, its application to Mesopotamian texts has recently been problematised (cf. Lambert 1996: 1-2; scholarship overview in Cohen 2013: 8-12). This conference will explore whether and how similar questioning should lead us to rethink the traditional and deep-seated applications of this label to the so-called ‘wisdom books’ of the Hebrew Bible (Proverbs, Job and Ecclesiastes) and to Greek texts (such as Hesiod, Theognis and Phocylides). Another problem deserving consideration is the juxtaposing of other labels such as ‘advice’ and ‘didactic literature’ to the tag ‘wisdom literature’. This eventually takes us to the central issues of the status of ‘wisdom literature’ as a genre, its oral origins, and its perception and circulation in antiquity. It is with the aim of bringing these problems to the surface, and reframing the debate about them, that this conference intends to approach ‘wisdom literature’. 

Focus and aims of the conference  

With this postgraduate conference we aim at exploring and dissecting the intertwining of literary and religious elements in texts that are normally labelled as ‘wisdom literature’. The Pseudo-Phocylidea was the work that inspired this conference, as ‘in the dynamics of its textual interactions, the poem evidences what may be called a principle of dual referentiality, integrating elements from two distinct referential fields, the literature of Hellenistic Jewish morality and the literature of classical Greek poetics’ (Wilson 2005: 14). Indeed, we seek to investigate whether and how, in general, a dual religious-literary referentiality is a constitutive aspect of those texts traditionally considered as ‘wisdom’ texts. We are interested in looking at how this integration embodies the ‘cumulative’ character of wisdom, and we finally aim to consider how such an approach can contribute to the debate concerning the status of ‘wisdom literature’ as a genre. 

To foster discussion on these themes, we invite papers that explore the integration of religious elements and literary echoes in wisdom texts dated from the Ancient Near Eastern Civilizations to Late Antiquity, while engaging with the definition and application of the label ‘wisdom literature’. We are particularly interested in contributions that reflect on cross-fertilisation and transcultural influences. 

The aim of the two-day conference is to create a fruitful and synergic environment for debate by bringing together postgraduates and early career researchers from across the UK and abroad working on, or interested in, ancient wisdom literature. Speakers will receive detailed feedback from advanced academics, and attendants, getting insights from experts in a range of fields of study, which will broaden their own perspective on ancient wisdom and its literary products. 

Suggested topics  

Suggested fields and topics include but are not limited to: 

  • the Near-Eastern and Mesopotamian traditions  
  • Egyptian ‘wisdom literature’ and instruction genre 
  • biblical ‘wisdom books’ and problematisation of this label 
  • Greek advice and gnomic poetry 
  • in general, cross-cultural interactions between wisdom traditions 
  • religious framework and cross-cultural influences: ethics, theology and theodicy  
  • wisdom texts and authorship: the role of self-presentation 
  • proverbs and paroemiographic collection
  • ainoi and fables 
  • literary expressions of personified wisdom  

Instructions 

We invite postgraduate students and early career researchers (within three years from PhD completion) to submit proposals for twenty-minute papers. Each paper will be followed by a personalised response from an advanced academic with research interests in wisdom literature, and a plenary discussion. In order to facilitate the response and discussion, delegates will be asked to circulate their papers in advance to both the respondent and the organisers of the conference. Selected papers will be considered for publication in peer-reviewed proceedings.  

Abstracts of no more than 300 words for twenty-minute papers and a working title should be sent to reframing-wisdom@kcl.ac.uk by Sunday 24th February 2019. Please include also full name, affiliation and contact information.  

Small bursaries will be available for speakers travelling from outside of London as partial contribution towards accommodation and travel costs.  

With kind regards,  

Sara De Martin and Anna Lucia Furlan 

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

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The SCS has received a response from a group of graduate students to Professor Joy Connolly’s blog post Working Towards a Just and Inclusive Future for Classics. This repsonse is posted below.

The student authors are anonymous and neither SCS staff nor Officers know their identities. As agreed with the Communications Committee, this piece is not appearing on the SCS blog, since the current policy is not to publish anonymous submissions on the blog. However, the Communications Committee and SCS staff agree that it is important to give students a voice and publish their contributions to debates about the future. The SCS leadership recognizes that there are circumstances under which anonymity can protect younger and more vulnerable members of the profession (see the dialogue following the board statement on ad hominem anonymous attacks), and shares the hope of the students, expressed in their final paragraph, that we can move towards a future where the protection of anonymity will no longer be necessary. 

The SCS office requested just one edit, on placement service data, to the submission. The post has not been otherwise edited or revised.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Thu, 03/21/2019 - 8:59pm by Helen Cullyer.
Penland Rome China 00

How can we forge better and lasting connections between the ancient Mediterranean and modern Chinese culture? At the end of the last school year, I had the occasion to sit down with my student, Hongshen Ken Lin (林鸿燊) to talk about his experiences in Classics. Ken was at the end of his senior year and had been accepted early to Harvard, where he planned to combine his love of Big Data and digital humanities with something equally remote and challenging: the study of Roman and Greek Antiquity.


Penland Rome China 01
Hongshen Ken Lin on the Harvard China website.

According to Ken, he became interested in studying Latin through a family trip to Rome combined with a freshman history class in the Ancient Mediterranean at his new US school. That was the first time he realized that Latin existed. He had not had much exposure to Roman and Greek history in China.

View full article. | Posted in on Thu, 03/21/2019 - 8:38pm by Liz Penland.
Call for Papers
October, 26th 2019.
University of Florida, Gainesville, FL.
Third University of Florida Classics Graduate Student Symposium
 
Justice turns the balance scales
Δίκα δὲ τοῖς μὲν παθοῦσιν μαθεῖν ἐπιρρέπει (Aeschylus, Agamemnon, 250-1)
“But Justice turns the balance scales,
sees that we suffer and we suffer and we learn.” (trans. Robert Fagles)

The importance of the concept of justice in ancient literature and culture set the foundation for the philosophical, social, and political reflections on the subject in the centuries that followed. From archaic theodicy, to the great plays of the Tragedians, from Caesar’s debate with Cato, to life under tyrannical emperors, δίκη [dīke] and iustitia (νόμος [nomos] and ius…) come to the fore as key ideas to interpret the world and man’s role/duty in it.  Many human experiences that ancient literature describes broached the issue of justice, be it at a personal level (the problem of suffering, retribution, progress, etc.) or at a societal and historical level (administration of justice, redistribution of land, great legal cases of ancient history, etc.). These ideas have been the point of reference for many literary works and philosophical/political reflections in the cultural tradition that reaches us today.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Thu, 03/21/2019 - 11:15am by Erik Shell.
"Empty Theatre (almost)"by Kevin Jaako, licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Department of Classics and the Ancient Theater Performance Group of Cornell University present....

TROADES 
“The Trojan Women”
by Seneca

In the original Latin
 
Directed by Daniel Gallagher and Nathan Chazan
  
Sunday, April 21, 2019 – 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, April 24, 2019 – 7: 30 p.m.

Rhodes-Rawlings Auditorium – Klarman Hall
 
Admission is free.
For more information:lmb296@cornell.edu

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

View full article. | Posted in Performances on Thu, 03/21/2019 - 8:20am by Erik Shell.

The Many Faces of War V: An annual interdisciplinary symposium on the experience and impact of war throughout history

 October 17th-18th, 2019 at South Dakota State University

This annual interdisciplinary conference aims to address both the experience and impact of war for those fighting as well as for those on the periphery of combat.  

The conference is aimed equally at postgraduate students, researchers in the early stages of their careers and established academics. There are no specific geographical or temporal parameters regarding the subject matter of papers, and scholars and students of ancient, medieval and modern warfare are encouraged to submit proposals. We would also encourage the proposal of panels of three papers.

 This year we encourage a focus on veterans and associated studies or experiences. Suggested topics are: PTSD; the social stigma of retreat or cowardice; social security systems for war widows and orphans; the effect of training on a soldier’s mindset and actions (before, during and after combat); the social position of soldiers and veterans;  literature and poetry of war; the art and architecture of war and remembrance. 

Proposals/abstracts should be no longer than 250 words and should be sent to:

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Wed, 03/20/2019 - 8:42am by Erik Shell.

SCS is pleased to announce the addition of a candidate to the 2019 election slate for President-Elect. Professor Shelley P. Haley has received the support of over 30 SCS members, and, in accordance with Bylaw 30, she has been added as a candidate in the upcoming summer elections. You can view the updated slate here.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Mon, 03/18/2019 - 1:34pm by Helen Cullyer.

The 2019 Election Slate is now available. Please click here for a list of candidates nominated by the Nominating Committee and for instructions for those members who wish to petition to be added to the ballot. 

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Mon, 03/18/2019 - 11:41am by Helen Cullyer.
Three Roman votive offering representing faces. Credit: Wellcome Collection. CC BY 4.0: https://wellcomecollection.org/works/vy2engnk

Emma-Jayne Graham discusses her newly launched digital project with Jessica Hughes called The Votives Project, which examines ancient religion, medicine, and the divine through the lens of votive offerings in ancient sanctuaries and beyond. 

“There must be lots of people working on material like this – wouldn’t it be great to be able to talk to them too?” This was the gist of a conversation with my colleague Jessica Hughes which eventually led to the creation of The Votives Project: a website and network of people from different backgrounds who study, create, or use votive offerings or other related ways of communicating with the divine.

View full article. | Posted in on Thu, 03/14/2019 - 3:45pm by Emma-Jayne Graham.

11–14 November 2019
Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University, Brno

The event represents a unique opportunity to bring together scholars from various disciplines of Classical Studies and other Humanities to share ideas on the playwriting of Titus Maccius Plautus, especially the performative aspects of his comedies and the process of their reception and adaptation to different languages and for the stage.

The participants are invited to fit their talk into one of the following panels:

1) Plautus on Page
Possible issues: How does the linguistics, art history, social/cultural/judicial studies, etc. contribute to our understanding of Plautine comedies as play texts? What are the sources and limits of reconstructing the actual stage practices of the ancient Roman theatre performances? Ancient intradialogical and extradialogical stage directions – how to read and understand them? And other.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Tue, 03/12/2019 - 2:30pm by Erik Shell.
Blue Women

All tickets are now reserved for the free staged reading and discussion of Emily Wilson's Odyssey translation at BAM on March 15 at 7.30pm. There will be a standby line. Reserved seats must be claimed by 7:20 p.m. Unclaimed seats will then be released to those on the standby line. 

Doors open at BAM Fisher (321 Ashland Pl, Brooklyn, NY 11217) at 6:30 p.m. for a book signing by Emily Wilson. Please bring your own copies for signing, as we will not be selling books.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Mon, 03/11/2019 - 8:51am by Erik Shell.

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