Seen on the Classicists list:
Domesticating Reality: Representations of Space and Place in Antiquity
Graduate Student Conference
Department of Classics
University of Toronto
20-21 April, 2013
Keynote speakers: Lisa Nevett, University of Michigan
Gábor Betegh, Central European University
The interplay between culture and space in ancient thought is
manifested in many ways. Not only are artistic and literary features
envisioned and understood in spatial terms, but physical spaces are
also imagined and explored through cultural expression. This
interaction is found in all forms of the representation of spaces -
textual, verbal, pictoral, architectural. Alex Purves’ recent study of
space and narrative highlights this approach: "Plot’s spatial legacy
is pervasive in ancient Greek thought, where songs might be conceived
as pathways, logoi as routes, writing as the movement of oxen turning
back and forth across a field with a plough…, narratives as pictures
or landscapes, and plots even as living creatures that take up set
areas of space."
As scholars of Classical antiquity, we find ourselves at the mercy of
representation to shape and inform our understanding of spaces -
landscapes, buildings, voyages, rooms – which are no longer knowable
by any other means. At the same time, our understanding of cultural
expression is often enriched by our ability to comprehend it in
We invite graduate students working in any area of Classical studies
(such as literary criticism, history, archaeology, science,
philosophy, social history, and philology) to submit papers exploring
the various means by which space was represented in antiquity. How was
space conceived, constructed, and defined in the Greek and Roman
worlds? How were differences in spaces and places articulated? How was
their use represented?
Some further possible themes to explore include:
-Abstraction: How is space conceptualised in ancient sciences such as
geometry, astronomy, geography, and astrology?
-Scale: How do cartographic or proto-cartographic representations
negotiate issues related to the size of the subject? (The microcosm
and the miniature.)
-Rhetoric: How do the spaces and places invoked function in discourse?
How do particular ritually, historically, or mythologically relevant
places resonate in various genres?
-Mobility: What is the effect of movement through space? How do travel
and representations of real or imagined journeys articulate
differences and universalities? (Ethnography, alterity, regional
-Polarities: What frequently appearing dichotomies are built on
spatial concepts? (Public & private, home & away, liminal &
-Formalities: What formal techniques do poets, painters, and other
ancient artists employ to represent and construct space and places?
(Ekphrasis, pastoral, space as literary trope.)
We ask that abstracts of no more than 300 words be submitted as email attachments (.doc/.pdf) to utoronto.grad.classics AT gmail.com no later than January 28th, 2013. Papers will be allotted 20 minutes, plus 10 minutes for discussion.
Conference funding provided by the University of Toronto?s Department of Classics and the Collaborative Program in Ancient and Medieval Philosophy (CPAMP).