“Domesticating Reality: Representations of Space and Place in Antiquity”
Graduate Student Conference
Department of Classics, University of Toronto
April 20-21, 2013
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 spatial terms.
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 conceptualized 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 affect of movement through space? How do travel and representations of real or imagined journeys articulate differences and universalities? (Ethnography, alterity, regional specificity. )
- Polarities: What frequently appearing dichotomies are built on spatial concepts? (Public & private, home & away, liminal & centripetal.)
- 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.)
DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION: Monday, January 28, 2013. We ask that abstracts of no more than 300 words be submitted as email attachments (.doc or .pdf) to firstname.lastname@example.org. Papers will be allotted 20 minutes each, 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).