CFP: Theory and Practice of Cosmic Ascent

The Theory and Practice of Cosmic Ascent: Comparative and Interdisciplinary Approaches

Trinity College, Dublin
19-20 June, 2020

Conference Sponsors: Trinity College Department of Classics, and The Centre for the Study of the Platonic Tradition, Trinity College, Dublin

Conference Organisers: Professor John Dillon (Emeritus, Trinity College, Dublin) and Nicholas Banner (Trinity College, Dublin) 

Date:  19-20 June, 2020
Submission Deadline:  13 March, 2020
Confirmation Date:  01 April, 2020

One of the most striking tropes in the history of western thought is the account of cosmic ascent; we find narratives of humans ascending to the stars and beyond in a vast array of sources from among the earliest written accounts of western literature, through antiquity, and up to (at least) the High Middle Ages. From the Hellenistic period onward, Mediterranean religions and philosophies (understood broadly) looked increasingly to a model of human ascent as a primary locus for spiritual achievement; however, the ways in which such ascent was conceptualized vary enormously from tradition to tradition (we might compare e.g. Jewish apocalyptic texts with the ascent-accounts of Platonist philosophers, or Hermetic with Sethian ascent-accounts), and even from thinker to thinker (we might contrast e.g. Plutarch with Plotinus or St Paul with Clement of Alexandria). 

The vast range of genres invoking cosmic ascent – including revealed scriptures, magical texts, scientific philosophic theory, religious devotional literature, and more – invites explanation. These ascent-accounts are often set in parallel with ascent-practices and ascent-experiences which are very difficult to interpret and model, adding further complexity to the enquiry.  

This conference will bring together specialists from a number of fields and methodological approaches with a view to expanding understanding of the significance of cosmic ascent-accounts. Papers are welcome from any methodological background, and neurological, cognitive, and other quantitative and qualitative scientific approaches are particularly welcome. The Mediterranean focus of the above description should by no means be taken to rule out any relevant geographical area; Manichæan or Islamicate texts from Central Asia, for example, are of obvious pertinence to the Mediterranean cosmic ascent topos. Themes for papers might include: 

  • Studies of ascent-accounts or the theory of cosmic ascent in a given writer, tradition, or cultural milieu, or comparative approaches to multiple such,
  • Cognitive or other approaches to the phenomenology of cosmic ascent as reported by ancient or later ascent-practitioners,
  • Cosmic ascent as a practice, whether considered phenomenologically, cognitively, as ritual, from a neuroscientific basis, or through other methodological frameworks,
  • Proposals for new typologies of cosmic ascent, or the refinement of existing ones.

The format of the conference will be one of traditional papers (30 minutes with ten to twenty minutes for discussion, depending on available time) interspersed with cross-disciplinary panel discussions and ample time and space for collegial interchange. It is especially hoped that disciplinary boundaries are crossed in this conference, so collaborative, cross-disciplinary papers are especially welcome.

Proposals of c. 200-300 words should be sent to Nicholas Banner (bannern@tcd.ie) not later that the submission deadline of 13 March, 2020. Successful applicants will be informed by the first of April. Applicants are welcome to propose panels or single papers.

The conference will be held in the Long Room Hub, Trinity College, Dublin. Limited funding for travel costs is available on the basis of need. Selected articles may be published as a special volume after a full double blind peer-review process.

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

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A black-and-white image of the reverse of a diadrachm of Magas, dated 300–275 BCE, depicting the silphium plant, with a small crab on the right side and Greek letters interspersed in the branches of the plant.

I guess I should say “thank you.” Gratias vobis ago. Thank you to the Republican Party’s long game, a partisan SCOTUS, years of deliberate Democratic avoidance. You see, I’ve been wanting for a while to write a book about social control, forced reproduction, and their effects on real people living under an authoritarian government. Of course, I was planning to write about Augustan Rome. But with the Court’s decision yesterday, ending nearly 50 years of Roe (that is, legal abortion in America), I’ve got a great reception study. And in real time.

View full article. | Posted in on Sat, 06/25/2022 - 1:39am by .

The 2023 Alexander G. McKay Prize competition for the best new book in Vergilian studies is now open!

The Vergilian Society is pleased to announce the opening of the next competition for the Alexander G. McKay Prize for the best book in Vergilian studies. The prize, which is accompanied by a cash award of $500 or a life membership in the Vergilian Society (valued at $800), is awarded every other year to the book that, in the opinion of the prize evaluation committee, makes the greatest contribution toward our understanding and appreciation of Vergil or topics related to Vergil. Works of literary criticism, biography, bibliography, textual criticism, reference, history, archaeology, and the classical tradition are all eligible, provided that Vergilian studies represent a significant portion of the discussion. The current competition will cover books published during the years 2020 and 2021. The winner will be announced at the Vergilian Society session at the annual meeting of the Society for Classical Studies in New Orleans in January 2023. The authors of books being considered for the McKay Prize must be members of the Vergilian Society at the time their books are submitted; for new members or to renew memberships see https://www.vergiliansociety.org/memberships-and-donations.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Tue, 06/21/2022 - 11:44am by .

Symposium Cumanum – Call for Proposals for June 2023

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Tue, 06/21/2022 - 11:40am by .
A row of six people, all but one dressed in varied togas. Two of the men raise their right hands in an oratorical gesture. Above each person is the name of a character in the Phormio.

In a discussion of the concept of the “good slave” in her book Reconstructing the Slave: The Image of the Slave in Ancient Greece, Kelly Wrenhaven rightly argues that “representations of good slaves are as much a part of the rationalizing ideology of slavery as bad slaves, as both help to justify and reinforce the institution.” Examining enslaved nurses depicted on Athenian tombstones, Wrenhaven points out that, out of a total of 15 extant tombstones for nurses, nine include the word chreste. Other inscriptions further confirm the association between the adjective chrestos and enslavement. On a 4th-century tombstone from Thasos, a shepherd named Manes is described as chrestos tais despotais (“useful to his masters”). Enslaved people are also described with this adjective in Menander as well as in Greek tragedy. What we get from considering the adjective chrestos in these and other contexts, as Wrenhaven makes clear, is that “the positive qualities most often attributed to slaves are precisely those which were most useful in the context of slavery.”

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 06/20/2022 - 10:24am by .
A mosaic with a black background. The top reads SCA PERPETUA. Beneath that is a bust image of a woman in a circle. She has brown hair pulled back, wears gold robes, and has a gold saint halo around her head.

Last year, I published an edition of Perpetua’s Passio together with a group of students: Mia Donato, Carolyn Engargiola, Eli Gendreau-Distler, Elizabeth Hasapis, Jacob Nguyen, Siddharth Pant, Shamika Podila, Anna Riordan, and Oliver Thompson. I worried that a book with ten names in the byline would look like a monstrosity. I worried that, since nine of those names belong to students, people would dismiss it as a school project, of interest only to the parents of the students on the cover. Yet the book has been warmly received: reviewed in journals, adopted for classes, and most recently honored with the 2022 Ladislaus J. Bolchazy Pedagogy Book Award from CAMWS. I say this not to trumpet their work (though I’m certainly proud of it), but rather because I think it speaks to a question that is relevant to the wider scholarly world: what role can students take in academic research and publication?

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 06/13/2022 - 1:50pm by .
A screencap from Hypotactic.com showing the text of Catullus, Poem 1. The words in the second line are highlighted in different colors by syllable.

Hypotactic.com is a website that provides open-license metrical scansions for a broad range of Greek and Latin texts. The main project interface, while relatively simple in its design, supports the user in reading ancient texts metrically through a variety of customizable annotations. The user can toggle between various display formats, including the addition of macrons, scansion, and marks for foot-breaks and/or caesuras. Particularly helpful for reading aloud is the innovative option to apply color-coding that highlights metrical units (and elisions) without the need to consult a separate line of metrical annotations.

A screencap from Hypotactic.com showing the text of Catullus, Poem 1. The words in the second line are highlighted in different colors by syllable.

Figure 1: Clicking on a line reveals the metrical analysis.

In metrically complex texts, such as Plautus or Pindar, every line is annotated with its metrical identification (e.g., ia6 for iambic senarii), such that transitions between meters are obvious to the reader without having to consult a separate commentary.

A screencap showing text with annotations. One line is highlighted green and blue by syllable.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 06/10/2022 - 11:32am by .
TAPA Books Fanned

JOIN TAPA FOR A VIRTUAL OPEN HOUSE

Join co-editors Joshua Billings and Irene Peirano Garrison, and editorial board members Catherine Conybeare, Lorenzo Garcia, and Nandini Pandey, for an open house via Zoom on June 15, 2022 @12:00 pm EDT.

Click Below to Register Now!

CLICK TO REGISTER

*Once you are registered you will receive a Zoom link 24 hours before the event and a reminder on the morning of June 15.

Open house attendees will learn about how to submit to TAPA, the peer review and editorial process, and particular areas of focus.

The Spring 2022 issue of TAPA is now out and that it includes scholarly articles and also short essays on Classics after COVID.

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Tue, 06/07/2022 - 10:15am by .
Four fragments of pottery with different marks on each. Beneath each photo of a pottery sherd is a drawing of that sherd. From left to right, the sherds are labeled Geometric Mark, Complex Mark, Script Sign, and Multi-sign.

Today we take our saturation in a graphic world for granted. When we see baseball caps with logos or nonsense writing on graphic t-shirts, we don’t immediately recognize them as evidence for writing. But in the case of the Late Bronze Age script of Cyprus (ca. 1600–1000 BCE), the undeciphered Cypro-Minoan script, we have more baseball caps and t-shirts than longer texts. Multi-sign texts with two or more contiguous signs, likely to represent words, number around 250. Most of these multi-sign texts are quite short, consisting of only one or two words.

The baseball caps in this analogy most often take the form of what are called Cypro-Minoan “potmarks,” mercantile vessels bearing single-sign texts. The potmarks contain both Cypro-Minoan script and non-script marks without equivalents in the Cypro-Minoan script. The single-sign text potmarks number over 1000. Like a Yankees cap or a graphic tee, the potmarks employ recognizable and non-recognizable elements of writing. But should they be taken as evidence for literacy?

This is the question at the heart of my dissertation. If the single-sign text potmarks were made by literate individuals, then Cypro-Minoan is not a meagerly attested script, but a mercantile script in wide use within Cyprus and, less widely, outside of it. Significantly, it would be one of the few scripts in the region that survive the Late Bronze Age collapse, and the only one that would be well-documented during this transitional period.

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 06/06/2022 - 12:47pm by .

Call for Papers: AMPRAW (Annual Meeting for Postgraduates in the Reception of the Ancient World)

AMPRAW is an annual conference that is designed to bring together early-career researchers in the field of classical reception studies, and will be held for the tenth year. It aims to contribute to the growth of an international network of PhDs working on classical reception(s), as well as to strengthen relationships between early career researchers and established academics.

AMPRAW 2022 will be held at Yale University from Thursday 3rd November to Saturday 5th November 2022, with the generous support of the Department of Classics at Yale University, the ARCHAIA program, and the Whitney Humanities Centre.

We anticipate holding this conference in a hybrid format. We hope that participants will be able to join us in person in New Haven, but will also allow remote access for both speakers and audience members.

This year’s theme is “Islands”. Possible topics may include, but need not be limited to, the following:

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Mon, 06/06/2022 - 9:26am by .

posted on behalf of the conference organizers

Classical Studies and the Americas

CIUDAD DE MÉXICO 1-5 / AGOSTO / 2022

The upcoming triannual Congress of FIEC will be a virtual conference, hosted in Mexico City.

Click Here to Register for virtual attendance

Visit the conference website (English and Spanish versions)

The FIEC International Congress for Classical Studies returns to this side of the Atlantic Ocean searching to arouse a plurality of voices. 

Contact for questions and more information: fiec_mexico2022@unam.mx

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Fri, 06/03/2022 - 9:51am by .

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