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CALL. 01.12.2016: Time and Eternity: The Conception of Time in Archaic Greek Literature - Charlottes


Time is a concept central to both the human existence and the narrative art: narrative occurs in time and presents or reconfigures a set of events that occur in time. Furthermore, time is an objective natural measure but in literature it appears malleable and can be shaped according to the rhetorical needs of the moment. In addition, time can be perceived in many ways (linear, circular, kairos). Literary reflections on time begin with the literature of the archaic age. For the first time, the Greeks started composing narratives and exploring their laws regarding the representation and ordering of time. Despite the progress made in the study of time in literature in recent years, there are still open questions as to how precisely time works in archaic texts and what they have to say about the ideas and conceptions of time held in that age.

Conveners: Anke Walter (University of Rostock), Athanassios Vergados (University of Heidelberg)



LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: University of Virgina, Charlottesville (Virginia, USA)

ORGANIZADOR/ORGANIZER/ORGANIZZATORE: Anke Walter ; Athanassios Vergados ; Jenny Strauss Clay

INFO: web - -


We invite papers exploring questions such as the following (but by no means limited to these):

How are the past and the future conceptualized in different literary genres, such as heroic and didactic epic, lyric poetry, and the earliest prose authors (historians, mythographers, and genealogists)? Which ideas of progress are explicitly presented or implied in archaic literature? How is time measured? Is there such a thing as an abstract notion of time, and if yes, how is it conceptualised? Are these ideas on time stable or can we trace some change or development in them? How do earlier reconstructions of the past (theogonies, heroogonies etc.) change over time? Another characteristic feature of archaic literature is the pervasive presence of the gods, which implies a different sort of temporality. How does archaic literature negotiate the confrontation of divine/eternal time with human/ephemeral time (e.g. in an epiphany)? What is the relation of time expressed in the texts and time as a narratological category? What can be said about the interaction of time with other categories (e.g., space or ethics)? Can the ideas on time found in literature be linked to the ‘world outside’ the text and to what we know of the historical and material reality of the age? Finally, what can we learn from studying these issues about the relationship of time and texts in more general terms? Is it at all possible to extract from texts the ideas of time prevalent in a certain epoch?

If you are interested in participating, we would ask you to send us an abstract of circa 250 words by December 1, 2016 that engages with some aspect of this topic in relation to archaic Greek literature. It may deal with one or multiple works and involve both Greek and Roman literature. We would like to circulate the papers one month in advance of the conference and envision a 45 min. session per participant, in which she/he will summarize the pre-circulated paper in 10 mins., with 35 mins. of discussion to follow. An application for funding to cover (part of) the travel and lodging expenses is pending, but participants are also encouraged to enquire for funding options at their home institutions. We envision the possibility of publication.

Please send your abstracts to both Anke Walter ( and Athanassios Vergados ( by December 1, 2016.

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