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CALL. 16.11.2015: Ancient Greek Pots and Social Class in the Britain 1789-1939, London (England)



LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: King's College (London, England)




Under the aegis of AHRC-funded Classics and Class research project based at King’s College London and directed by Professor Edith Hall and Dr Henry Stead. Convener: Dr Alexia Petsalis-Diomidis Date: Thursday 5 May 2016 Location: King’s College London, Strand, London WC2R 2LS Material culture can be used to enact class. This occurs in manifold ways including on human bodies through fashion, in the interior domestic environment and architecture through inhabited space and in taste in art. These ideas have been explored in a variety of media and cultural contexts, including academia (notably in the work of Pierre Bourdieu), and in the ceramic art and broadcasting of Grayson Perry (e.g. Channel 4 documentary series 2012 ‘In the best possible taste’). Classical material culture has been part of British material culture from at least the C17th onwards and as such has played an important role in delineating class distinctions. Its popularity in the late C18th and C19th is to be seen within the context of British colonialism and rising luxury consumption, itself a marker of class. In C18th and C19th Britain Greek pots were seen as the cheap cousins of more durable and “elevated” marble sculpture. While the reception of marginalized Greek pots is receiving increasing scholarly attention, research has focused predominantly on elite reception, notably collections in the houses of the rich, and expensive ceramics, furnishings and fashions, inspired directly by Greek pots and indirectly by their two-dimensional images in publications. This symposium seeks to explore the reception of ancient Greek pots through the lens of social class and to bring to prominence hitherto marginalized working class and middle class engagements with this area of Classical material culture. Greek pots offer rich possibilities for revisionist histories of engagement with Classical culture for several reasons. First they themselves are connected to non-elites of ancient Greece through their cheap material and manufacture by non-elite craftsmen, whose work had a direct analogue in that of the labourers in the Potteries and other factories; second through their depiction of the lives of non-elite Athenians, and third (arguably) through their use by non-elites. A class-focused exploration of the reception of Greek pots, then, offers the opportunity to analyse non-elite responses to ancient non-elites. Abstracts of up to 300 words, should be sent to by 16 November 2015, including (but not limited to) the following themes in the context of Britain 1789-1939: • the place of Greek pots and the objects they inspired within broader British material culture and consumption • the role of gender in different class engagements with Greek pots • the role and agency of craftsmen creating objects inspired by Greek pots (potters, cabinet makers etc) • widening access and viewing experiences of working and middle classes of Greek pots in houses and museums • the role of Greek pots and the objects they inspired in the demarcation of class (particularly the appeal and consumption of cheaper objects such as Dilwyn pottery) • the relationship between different class engagements with classical pots (agency, top down models of influence or interpenetration) • the influence of the arts and crafts movement on Sir John Beazley’s approach to Greek pots • the view from abroad: class and ancient Greek pots in countries other than Britain (particularly in Italy, France, Germany, the Ottoman empire). This could include the role of class in (licit and illicit) excavating, collecting and imitating Greek pots.

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