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Bodily Fluids/Fluid Bodies in Greek and Roman Antiquity - 11-12-13/07/2016, Cardiff (Wales)

Classical Studies are currently witnessing a sensory/sensual turn: the five senses have become central to our understanding of the Greek and Roman world. This welcome development has led scholars to pay attention to repulsion as much as to pleasant sensations, and has added a new material dimension to literary studies. This conference builds upon these sensory approaches to examine bodily fluids: blood and menstrual blood, sweat, tears, phlegm, bile, urine, sperm, and milk. How were bodily fluids, and those who exuded them, received in ancient society? How were internal bodily fluids perceived, and how did this perception alter if such fluids were externalised? Do these ancient conceptions complement or challenge our modern sensibilities about bodily fluids? How were religious practices determined by attitudes towards bodily fluids, and how did religious authorities attempt to regulate or restrict the appearance of bodily fluids?

In addition to furthering our historical knowledge of these individual bodily fluids, this conference seeks to refine the definition of the ancient body. Does the body end with the skin, or is it a more fluid entity that can leak, transpire, and trickle? How prevalent are metaphors of fluidity in descriptions of the ancient body? How are bodily fluids an indication of gender and sex? We are also interested in descriptions of conception, in which male and female bodily fluids are said to coagulate to form an embryo.

FECHA/DATE/DATA: 11-12-13/07/2016

LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: St. Michael's College (Cardiff, Wales)

ORGANIZADOR/ORGANIZER/ORGANIZZATORE: Dr Victoria Leonard (Cardiff University) - Dr Laurence Totelin (Cardiff University)

INFO: web -


Becas disponibles / bursaries available / borse disponibile


Monday 11th July

10.30-11.00 Registration

11.00-12.00 Keynote Address Helen King (Open University) Opening the body of fluids: taking in and pouring out in Renaissance readings of classical women

12.00-1.00 Lunch

First Panel: Blood for the gods and godly fluids

1.30-2.00 Emily Kearns (St Hilda’s College, Oxford) A natural symbol? The (un)importance of blood in early Greek religious and literary contexts

2.00-2.30 Deborah Lyons (Miami University) Intimations of mortality: divine fluids and the limits of divinity

2.30-3.00 Rosie Jackson (University of Manchester) Martyrdom reconfigured: menstruating virgins and sacrificial blood

3.00-3.30 Anastasia Stylianou (University of Warwick) “Blood of his dear saints (like good seed) never falleth in vain to the ground”: the influence of Classical medical thought and early Christian beliefs upon medieval and early-modern constructions of martyrs’ blood

3.30-4.00 Tea

Second Panel: Tears and other eye liquids

4.00-4.30 Julie Laskaris (University of Richmond) The eyes have it all

4.30-5.00 Peter Kelly (NUI Galway) Tears and liquefaction: corporeal permeability in Ovid’s Metamorphoses

5.00-5.30 Laura Mareri (University of Macerata, Italy) Crying in Byzantium: tears as symptoms and healers

5.30-5.45 Short break

Third Panel: Fluid sympatheia

5.45-6.15 Michael Goyette (Brooklyn College) Sympathetic fluidity: somatic, emotional, and cosmic flux in Senecan tragedy

6.15-6.45 Heather Hunter-Crawley (Swansea University) Sense and sympatheia: modelling the fluidity of bodies in Roman domestic religion

7.30 Dinner in local restaurant (or free choice)

Tuesday 12th July

First Panel: Sweat

9.30-10.00 Mark Bradley (University of Nottingham) Sweating like a Roman: perspiration, essence and goatiness from Republic to Empire

10.00-10.30 Jane Burkowski (Oriel College, Oxford) Scent of a puella: perfume, sweat, and the real in Latin love elegy and Ovid’s didactic works

10.30-11.00 Colin Webster (UC Davis) Why don’t we sweat when we hold our breath? Paradoxes of perspiration in ancient Greek medicine

11.00-11.30 Coffee

Second Panel: Menses

11.30-12.00 Rosalind Janssen (University College London) A valid excuse for a day-off work: menstruation in an ancient Egyptian village

12.00-12.30 Irene Salvo (University of Göttingen) Menstrual blood: what Athenian women knew

12.30-1.00 Caroline Spearing (King’s College London) The menstruation debate in book 2 of Abraham Cowley’s Plantarum Libri Sex (1662 and 1668)

1.00-2.30 Lunch

Third Panel: Dissolving bodies and tragic fluids

2.30-3.00 Tasha Dobbin-Bennett (Emory University) ‘Efflux is my manifestation’: ancient Egyptian conceptions of putrefactive fluids

3.00-3.30 Christiaan Caspers (Murmellius Gymnasium, The Netherlands) Heated bodies, melting selves: dissolving personhood in classical Greek poetry

3.30-4.00 Goran Vidovic (Cornell University) Physiology of matricide: revenge and metabolism in Aeschylus’ Choephoroe

4.00-4.30 Tea

Fourth Panel: Erotic Fluids

4.30-5.00 Emilio Capettini (Princeton University) Blush, (internal) sweat, and tear in Chariton’s Chaeras and Callirhoe

5.00-5.30 Catalina Popescu (Texas Tech University) A Pandora of ivory: the pure humours of an erotic surrogate

5.30-6.00 Blossom Stefaniw (Gutenberg Universität Mainz) Maleness without members: ominous fluids and passionate flux in the historia lausiaca

7.00 Wine Reception 7.30 Conference Dinner

Wednesday 13th July

9.00-10.00 Keynote Address Rebecca Flemming (Jesus College, Cambridge) One-seed, two-seed, three-seed? Reassessing ancient theories of generation

10.00-10.30 – Break

First Panel: Semen and female fluids

10.30-11.00 Rebecca Fallas (Open University) ‘Infertile’ and ‘sub-fertile’ semen in the ancient medical texts

11.00-11.30 Tara Mulder (Wheaton College) Wetness, foetal sex, and female bodies

11.30-12.00 Dawn Lavalle (Magdalen College, Oxford) Adam’s semen as ‘liquid bone’ in Methodius of Olympius’ Symposium

12.00-12.30 Thea Lawrence (University of Notthingham) Utilissimum cuique lac maternum: breastmilk, breastfeeding and the female body in early imperial Rome

12.30-1.30 Lunch

Second Panel: Wounds and morbid fluids

1.30-2.00 Assaf Krebs (Tel Aviv University) Open and Close: wounds, skin and the corporeal envelope

2.00-2.30 Susanne Turner (University of Cambridge) Blood, wounds and the impenetrability of the classical body

2.30-3.00 Calloway Brewster-Scott (New York University) Fluid proofs: dropsical bodies in the Hippocratic Corpus

3.00-3.30 Leyla Ozbek (University of Cambridge) Medical erudition and literary pathos: bodily fluids in Quintus Smyraneus’ Posthomerica

3.30-4.00 Tea

Fourth Panel: Comical and satirical bodies

4.00-4.30 Amy Coker (University of Manchester) Fluid vocabulary: the Greek lexicon of bodily effluvia (or did the Greeks have a word for ‘spunk’?)

4.30-5.00 Andreas Gavrielatos (University of Edinburgh) Bodily fluids in Persius’ Satires

5.00-5.30 Claude-Emmanuelle Centlivres Challet (University of Lausanne) Satirical fluids and the couple: the role of bile, urine, sweat, sperm, milk and tears in Juvenalian conjugal relationships

End of conference, dinner in local restaurant

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