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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The Classics Everywhere initiative, launched by the SCS in 2019, supports projects that seek to engage communities worldwide with the study of Greek and Roman antiquity in new and meaningful ways. In this post we focus on three projects that continue their activity through the COVID-19 pandemic.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 04/24/2020 - 4:39am by .

The Society for Classical Studies (SCS) and the Women’s Classical Caucus (WCC) would like to announce the creation of the SCS-WCC COVID-19 Relief Fund, a new award fund to support classicists, particularly graduate students and contingent faculty, experiencing precarity as a result of the pandemic. Applicants do not have to be current members of the SCS or WCC but do need to be currently active scholars or graduate students who study the ancient Mediterranean world. We know that what we can offer is unlikely to match the needs arising from the crisis, but we hope that these microgrants can give immediate, unrestricted financial support.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Wed, 04/22/2020 - 8:19pm by Helen Cullyer.

Each year the SCS holds a roundtable at regional classics meetings across the country to speak directly with members and non-members about a particular issue that looms large in the field. Due to the cancelation, postponement, or virtual movement of regional classics association meetings, the SCS would like to hold an additional, virtual roundtable with this year's topic: "The 'Limits' of Classical Studies," where we consider what geographies, cultures, and time periods fall into the loose category that we call the classics.

This roundtable will take place on May 12 at 1:00 p.m. EST. Please RSVP for the Zoom meeting using this form. You will be contacted 24 hours before the roundtable with a Zoom access link and other supplementary information as needed.

We look forward to a lively and substantive discussion!

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Mon, 04/20/2020 - 10:35am by Erik Shell.

Dear SCS Members,

We would like to remind you of the approaching deadlines for submissions for the 2021 AIA/SCS Annual Meeting.  Please see below for relevant deadlines associated with submission type, plus an update to the deadline for reports from Category II Affiliated Groups that have issued a call for abstracts. We would like to remind you that, unless stated otherwise, submissions should be made via the SCS submission website at https://program.classicalstudies.org.  

DEADLINES:  

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Thu, 04/16/2020 - 9:20am by Erik Shell.

In  her ‘art of translation’ column, Adrienne K.H. Rose interviews Jinyu Liu, Professor of Classical Studies at Depauw University, about translating texts across cultures, Ovid, and the translation space as a “contact zone.” 

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AKHR: For readers who are learning about cross-cultural translation for the first time, could you say a little bit in general about what it encompasses, as well as how it is a feature in your current projects? Isn't all translation cross-cultural?

View full article. | Posted in on Wed, 04/15/2020 - 6:17am by Adrienne K.H. Rose.

Given that extraordinary demands are presently being placed on everyone’s time (to mention only that), SCS is granting an extended deadline for Category II affiliated groups to submit affiliated group reports on panels for 2021.

The deadline for submission of the Affiliated Group Reports is now 8 June, although we encourage any affiliated group that is ready to submit by April 21 to do so. This extended timeframe will allow groups to renew their calls for papers with a new deadline, should they wish to do so. We would suggest a deadline of 10 May for affiliated group abstracts, to provide time for the usual vetting process. Additionally, we will allow members to submit abstracts for both individual papers and for Affiliated Group panels, to preserve the policy of allowing two routes onto the program for individual submitters, albeit with the submission deadlines in reverse order and without the possibility of knowing the result of the first submission before making the second (these are complicated times!). Should an abstract be accepted in both forms, the paper will appear in the program on the affiliated group panel, not as an individual submission in a paper session.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Mon, 04/13/2020 - 12:38pm by Erik Shell.

Dee Clayman is Professor of Classics at Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center at the City University of New York (CUNY). She was born in New York and earned her B.A. from Wellesley College in 1967. She received her M.A. in 1969 and her Ph.D. in 1972, both from the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Clayman is an expert on Greek poetry, particularly of the Hellenistic age.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 04/10/2020 - 7:16am by Claire Catenaccio.

Given the rapidly changing situation in the present moment, a conference in January 2021 looks a long way off. But planning for our 152nd annual meeting in Chicago has already begun, and it will intensify in the months between now and then. Indeed we are making both plans and contingency plans, because the SCS will hold its annual meeting in some form. It may resemble past meetings, or it may involve remote participation; it is impossible to predict what circumstances will require. But the process of compiling the academic portion of the program will proceed (almost) as usual, with a (remote) Program Committee meeting in June in which the committee discusses the abstracts and proposals submitted through the online submission system. Only after the panels and papers have been selected and arranged can planning begin for the rest of the program: the committee meetings, the business meetings for affiliated groups, the interviews, the receptions, and all of the other meeting events

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Tue, 04/07/2020 - 2:42pm by Helen Cullyer.

In his history of the long and costly war between Athens and Sparta, the historian Thucydides explained that he had written his narrative to be “a possession for all time” and to be of assistance to those of future generations “who want to see things clearly as they were and, given human nature, as they will one day be again, more or less."1 Thucydides was a shrewd observer and analyst of human behavior, and his work has frequently been cited in times of crisis by those who see patterns in history.  At the famous ceremony dedicating the battlefield cemetery at Gettysburg in 1863 at which Lincoln also spoke, former Secretary of State Edward Everett delivered a eulogy

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 04/03/2020 - 8:10am by .

As we all contend with the unprecedented challenges presented by the COVID-19 Coronavirus, I want to start by highlighting a gratifying fact: the indispensable expert and voice of reason, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, majored in Classics as an undergraduate at Holy Cross!  This is a timely and inspiring reminder that Classics majors go on to distinguish themselves in many different careers and to perform many kinds of vital service.

I also want to emphasize that, despite the ongoing crisis, the SCS is fully up-and-running. Our three fulltime staff members, Helen Cullyer, Cherane Ali, and Erik Shell, have made a seamless transition to working remotely, thanks to careful advance planning on their part. They are maintaining regular business hours even as they work remotely, and are available to help our members however they can.

View full article. | Posted in Presidential Letters on Sun, 03/29/2020 - 2:22pm by Helen Cullyer.

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