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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On October 13, 2019, the SCS Board of Directors approved the following letter addressed to the Board of Directors of the Paideia Institute for Humanistic Study, Inc.

"The Society for Classical Studies joins the American Classical League in expressing deep concern in response to recent public statements regarding the Paideia Institute. Some of those statements are authored by individuals who have been closely associated with Paideia in various capacities and who have now resigned from the Institute.  Some of the published allegations are more generally about the Institute’s cultural climate, while others concern specific incidents. All the allegations are serious.

Accordingly, the SCS board of directors has approved a temporary hiatus on new funding for Paideia programs, including but not limited to support via the SCS Minority Scholarships, Coffin Fellowships, and Classics Everywhere micro-grants.

View full article. | Posted in Public Statements on Mon, 10/14/2019 - 12:59pm by Helen Cullyer.

Years of restoration work on the Palatine Hill and in the Roman Forum which—together with the Colosseum—now make up the Parco Archeologico del Colosseo has been coming to fruition over the last few years. After decades of sporadic work, rusting scaffolding, and locked gates, a fabulous flurry of activity has yielded an ever greater number of visitable sites.

Many of these are accessible as part of the SUPER ticket, which provides access to the Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum (but not the Colosseum), and includes access to eight excellent “bonus” sites: Santa Maria Antiqua, Temple of Romulus, Palatine Museum, the Neronian Cryptoporticus, the Aula Isiaca and Loggia Mattei, the Houses of Augustus and Livia, and—most recently—the Domus Transitoria.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 10/11/2019 - 12:13am by Agnes Crawford.

Departmental memberships for 2020 are now available. This year's departmental membership includes new publication options as well as the ability to purchase membership for students and contingent faculty.

You can download the form here, then send it to the SCS office through fax or via email at info@classicalstudies.org

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View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Thu, 10/10/2019 - 10:38am by Erik Shell.

"Space and Governance: Towards a New Topography of Roman Administration"

Conference, 3-4 April 2020, Royal Academy of Spain at Rome (Real Academia de España en Roma)

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Thu, 10/10/2019 - 8:53am by Erik Shell.

Call for Volunteers

The Society for Classical Studies seeks graduate, undergraduate, and contingent faculty volunteers for the 151th Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., which will take place this coming January.  Assignments will include working in the registration area and assisting staff with some sessions and special events.

You can sign up to volunteer here.

In exchange for six hours of service (either in one continuous or in segmented assignments), volunteers receive a waiver of their annual meeting registration fees.  It is not necessary to be an SCS member to volunteer.

For more information about the meeting itself, visit our Annual Meeting page.

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View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Mon, 10/07/2019 - 10:25am by Erik Shell.

In response to problems and needs, some long-term and others exposed by events at San Diego, the SCS Board of Directors has voted to add an Equity Adviser to the SCS board as an advisory member, with voice but without vote. This will be a three-year appointment made by the President, upon approval of the directors. The position will replace on the board, as of January 5, 2020, the current chair of the Strategic Development Committee, who currently serves as an ex officio board member with voice but without vote. The Strategic Development Committee itself is being wound down as part of an attempt to rationalize our governance structure. This change will not affect the 16 elected board positions.

The main roles of the Equity Adviser (hereafter EA) will be to promote diversity, inclusion, and equity in all SCS activities, looking especially at elections, governance, publications, and the annual meeting.  The EA will consult with the Committee on Professional Matters to obtain an accurate understanding of topics and data relating to diversity, inclusion, and equity across the organization. This would be particularly important in the first year of an EA’s appointment, as the adviser assesses historical trends in diversity relating to:

1) our Board of Directors and our committees;

2) the program of our annual meeting, and its actual realization; and

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Fri, 10/04/2019 - 2:35pm by Erik Shell.

ANCHORING TECHNOLOGY IN GRECO-ROMAN ANTIQUITY

An interdisciplinary conference
Soeterbeeck (Radboud University), 10-13 December 2020

‘Anchoring Innovation’ is a Dutch research program in Classics that studies how people deal with ‘the new’ (http://www.ru.nl/oikos/anchoring-innovation/). We want to understand the multifarious ways in which relevant social groups connect what they perceive as new to what they feel is already familiar (‘anchoring’). In this conference, our focus will be on technological innovations in classical antiquity, and the ways in which these became acceptable, were adopted, and spread – or died an unceremonious death.

Technology is here understood in the widest sense of the word: it includes building materials and techniques, technical procedures and products, but also information technologies such as writing and calculating, coinage, medicine and military technology. Greco-Roman antiquity offers an ideal testing ground for understanding technological change in a complex, yet non-modern society: it is richly documented (both in the written record and in material remains), and the ‘sources’ are complex but also well-disclosed, which enables us to tackle complex research questions.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Fri, 10/04/2019 - 1:24pm by Erik Shell.

In the past year, the Society for Classical Studies website has published a number of pieces catalyzed by the blatant racism on display at the most recent annual meeting. Professor Joy Connolly wrote a piece called “Working Toward a Just and Inclusive Future for Classics,” which then generated a response by an anonymous graduate student group, which in turn led to further comment by the SCS, Professor Connolly, and the newly formed SCS Graduate Student Committee. These various pieces pointed to ways Classics could progress and thrive for generations to come. 

What became lost in this series of posts was a focus on racial diversity and inclusivity, as the conversation increasingly broadened to include all manner of injustice found in academic work conditions. The act of racism that started the conversation became overshadowed by much more general discussion about problems that affect the whole of academia, e.g., the increasing precarity of academic labor.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 10/04/2019 - 6:33am by Joy Reeber.

Below are the citations for the three winners of our 2019 Charles J. Goodwin Award of Merit. Please join us in congratulating this year's winners and in thanking the Goodwin Committee members for their hard work.

Andrew C. Johnston

Josephine Quinn

Francesa Schironi

Andrew C. Johnston, The Sons of Remus: Identity in Roman Gaul and Spain. Harvard University Press, 2017

The story of the Roman Empire, much like the story of the American West, has long emphasized assimilation and Romanization: parcere subiectis et debellare superbos. Presumably discarded were the local identities and indigenous traditions that no longer defined or empowered the provincials. Unlike the cities of the Greek East, with their indigenous and hyper-literate insistence on their own distinctive identities, past and present, the Roman West has been thought to be a virtual tabula rasa, on which Romanness was inscribed with little difficulty. 

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Thu, 10/03/2019 - 12:58pm by Erik Shell.

For the first time since 2016, the SCS will be holding four seminars at this year’s annual meeting.

Seminars as a rule concentrate on more narrowly focused topics and aim at extensive discussion. In order to allow the time to be spent mainly on discussion, the SCS publishes a notice about the session in advance, and organizers distribute copies of the papers (normally three or four in number) to be discussed to those who request them.  Attendance at a seminar will, if necessary, be limited to the first 25 people who sign up. Seminars are normally three hours in length. Registered meeting attendees may sign up at no additional cost for one or more of these seminars during the month of October.

You can chceck out this year's seminars and sign up here: https://classicalstudies.org/annual-meeting/2020/151/2020-annual-meeting-seminars

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View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Mon, 09/30/2019 - 10:40am by Erik Shell.

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