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CALL. 30.11.2019: Middle Platonism and its Literary Reflections - Freiburg im Breisgau (Germany)




LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: University of Freiburg (Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany)

ORGANIZADOR/ORGANIZER/ORGANIZZATORE: Ben Cartlidge (Liverpool); Leonardo Costantini (Freiburg im Breisgau).



We invite abstracts for papers for a conference to be held at the University of Freiburg, in conjunction with the University of Liverpool, to develop new perspectives on the ways in which Middle Platonism influenced contemporaneous literary texts. Scholarship has already explored the reception of Plato in a range of texts composed between 80 b.c.- a.d. 200 – Cicero, Plutarch, Apuleius, Galen, Aulus Gellius, Aelius Aristides, Philo, Athenaeus, to name but a few – and there has been a great deal of valuable work on the thought and development of the Middle Platonists (J. Dillon, The Middle Platonists, J. Dillon & A. Long Beyond Eclecticism, S. Gersh, Middle Platonism and Neoplatonism: The Latin Tradition, C. Moreschini, Apuleius and the Metamorphoses of Platonism, M. Niehoff, Philo of Alexandria: An Intellectual Biography, as well as commentaries on Apuleius, Plutarch, Alcinous, etc., and sourcebooks such as G. Boys-Stones, Platonist Philosophy 80 BC to AD 250).

A lacking perspective, however, has been the connection between Plato as a ‘text’ and Platonism as a collection of ideas fashioned into more or less systematised doctrine: when do writers like Plutarch or Apuleius reflect readings of Plato’s texts, and when the reshaping of Platonic ideas by (themselves and) contemporary thinkers? In short, then, we pose the question: ‘How does Middle Platonism affect the literature of the period?’ Can a distinct Middle Platonic concern (or set of concerns) be identified? And how wide-ranging is this interest in literary work of the period?

The conference joins and stimulates a conversation between historians of literature and historians of philosophy on how their disciplines organise themselves through time: how does the development of doctrine or intellectual speculation reflect and shape changes in literature and literary responses to intellectual culture? Where are the boundaries between doctrinal development and literary reception?

Alongside prose authors, such as those mentioned above, contributions, from scholars at any career stage, are sought that examine Platonic notions in any chronologically relevant texts (including letters, epigrams, prose literature, philosophical texts, inscriptions, papyri etc.); challenging or provocative ideas are welcome. So are contributions that examine the literary shaping of Middle Platonic texts (preserved or fragmentary). It is expected that most papers will focus on Greek and Latin texts of the period, but we are open to aspects of Platonism reflected in other literary traditions within the period.

We are delighted to announce as keynote speakers Judith Mossman; Heinz-Günther Nesselrath; Michael Trapp; Tim Whitmarsh; and Alexei Zadorozhnyy.

Please submit abstracts of 300 words, for a 20 minute paper to be followed by 10 minutes of discussion, by the 30th of November to Ben Cartlidge ( and Leonardo Costantini ( Abstracts can be in English or German, but the language of the conference will be English. Please attach the abstract as a separate anonymous file (.docx or .pdf), and include in the body of the email a brief academic biography. Some support for participation will be available, particularly for early career scholars or the unwaged.

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