CFP: Scientists and Professionals in the Ancient World

7-9 SEPTEMBER 2009

The technical and scientific writing of Graeco-Roman antiquity has been the
focus of systematic scholarly study in recent decades. Attention has been
mainly directed towards the textual means through which ancient technical and
scientific knowledge was organised and codified. Relatively little scholarly
effort has been put into examining the role of authorial voice in the making of
such bodies of knowledge, despite the fact that authorial perspective is very
important in modern history of science and anthropology’s evaluation of how
scientific truth is constructed. Even less, until recently, has there been an
effort to connect ancient scientific writing with broader strategies of
cultivating a distinctly professional, or ‘specialist’ identity in antiquity,
such as are manifested through biography, epigraphy, or art. There has been
some important recent work in all of these areas, but this conference aims to
break new ground through a comparative approach which brings together scholars
working on many different areas of ancient professional and intellectual life,
investigating technical and scientific texts in a wide range of different
fields, and integrating that with attention to other kinds of evidence for
professional activity in the ancient world.

We are particularly interested in exploring the extent to which certain key
topoi of professional self-presentation may be traced across genres (including
poetry, philosophy or sophistic performance) or representational media (such as
inscriptions, funerary art, or sculpture). We envisage a particular focus on the
Roman Empire, but welcome papers on other periods.

The conference is funded by the Leverhulme Trust, as part of a wider project on
‘Science and Empire in the Roman World’. It is the third in a series of
conferences, following earlier events on ‘Encyclopedism before the Renaissance’
(June 2007) and on ‘Ancient Libraries’ (September 2008).
More information on the project may be found at:

Conference Organisers:
Dr Emma Gee (ergg
Dr Jason König (jpk3 AT
Dr Katerina Oikonomopoulou (ao40 AT
Professor Greg Woolf (gdw2 AT

We invite papers on the following topics:
• The social status and esteem of ancient scientists and professionals.
• Authorial voice and self-presentation in ancient technical and scientific
• Genres of professional self-presentation (texts, inscriptions, statues, or
grave monuments) and their relationship to one other.
• The institutional organisation of professional and scientific activity (such
as professional guilds, philosophical schools, and other educational
institutions) and its role in fostering, promoting and representing
professional ‘identity’ in antiquity.
• Ancient notions of the professional, the scientist, the intellectual.,
• Changing representations of particular professions and intellectual fields.
• Biographical representations of scientists and professionals; the ancient
professional in the eyes of others.

Scholars, including postgraduate students, are asked to send 300-word abstracts
to Katerina Oikonomopoulou (ao40 AT by the end of March 2009.

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