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CALL. 14.12.2018: Classical Marvels - St. Andrews (Scotland)




LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: University of Saint Andrews (Saint Andrews, Scotland)

ORGANIZADOR/ORGANIZER/ORGANIZZATORE: Dr Alexia Petsalis-Diomidis (University of St Andrews)



The conference explores discourses and experiences of the marvellous in Graeco-Roman culture, through a variety of sources, including literature and material culture. A key aim is to investigate the role of medium and genre in the ‘texture’ of the experience of the marvellous. Two current scholarly approaches in particular offer new pathways into this subject:

(1) new materialism, the agency of the object, embodiment

(2) increasing awareness of diversity amongst those experiencing the marvel (across race, gender, age, disability, social status).

These approaches offer the possibility of writing ‘micro histories’ of specific, individual, possibly marginalised, or popular, experiences of marvels and setting these against broader cultural discourses, shedding light on the way that the marvellous intersects with other important areas of culture, in particular religion, technology and travel. The conference aims to bring together scholars from across the sub disciplines of Classics (in particular literature, archaeology and art history, philosophy) to benefit from a variety of methodologies, including, but not limited to, phenomenological, sensory and embodied approaches. In addition there will be dialogue with practitioners, including a visual artist and socialist magician (see confirmed speakers below). Questions we seek to explore: o Can the concept of the marvellous be applied cross-culturally? Does the study of Greek and Latin terminology (thauma, paradoxon, mirabilium etc) shed light on the specificity of the concept within Graeco-Roman culture? o How does the discourse of the marvellous in Graeco-Roman culture change over time? o How far can we trace links between a classical tradition engaged with marvels and later discourses of the marvellous? o How are marvels presented in different types of texts, ranging from fictional narratives to technical treatises? What is their range of functions? How do literary genealogies, structures, and literary effects create the ‘texture’ of the experience of the marvellous? o How is the marvellous experienced in material culture, ranging in scale from the colossal (e.g. architecture, statues) to the minute (e.g. jewellery), in ‘quality’ from highly crafted man-made objects (e.g. gadgets) to naturally occurring things (e.g. large bones)? What strategies are employed in the depiction of marvels in the visual arts? What is the relationship between art / techne and the marvellous? o How does the marvellous intersect with physical location (familiar / unknown) and with time (pre-, post-eventum, and in the immediate present flow?) o What is the role of the human body in the experience of the marvellous? How does it function as a marvel in its own right, in life and in death? o How do marvels manifest themselves in nature (e.g. physical phenomena like volcanoes, extraordinary animals)? o Is there a distinction in the reception of staged / performed marvels, and the unexpected encounter? What are the effects of the scientific explication of the marvellous? Please submit abstracts of c.250 words for 20-minute papers to Alexia at by 14 December 2018, and replies will be sent out by 25 January 2019. Abstracts may propose in-depth analyses of specific pieces of evidence within their cultural context or broader theoretical discussions. While the focus is on the Graeco-Roman world, proposals on the post-antique period, including those related to Classical Reception, are also welcome. Diverse voices are actively sought, particularly those of early career researchers and of minority groups underrepresented in the Classical academy.

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