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Classics In Relation Symposium, September 2020

Overall rationale:

• Why does Classical literary form matter now?

• What are its relations, beyond historicism or literary tradition: how should they be conceptualised?

• How do we explain the enduring fascination and engagements of Classical texts?

• How may we use Classical texts as an aesthetic and ethical resource within or beyond our disciplinary horizons?

• What happens when we juxtapose Classical texts with modern literature / philosophy / art / photography, and what can be gained when we do?

• Why do we want to think unhistorically with classical literature, or at least approach historicism differently, and what happens when we do?

• What are the strengths and weaknesses of a disciplinary commitment to literary historicisms?

Organisation and timings:

2–6:30pm BST, Friday 4th September 2020, via link provided
2:00-2:15pm: Introduction by Dr David Fearn (Warwick) and Dr Tom Phillips (Manchester)
2:15–4pm: Discussion of pre-circulated pieces (roughly 20mins each: 5mins per person to present what they were doing/saying followed by questions)

Dr Tom Phillips - ‘Before | Nameless’,
Dr David Fearn - 'Seaworks - Beyond Mirrors and Windows',
Prof Alex Purves (UCLA) - 'Two Ways of Being Alone',
Prof Constanze Güthenke (Oxford) - 'Telemachus in Relation',
Prof Brooke Holmes (Princeton) - 'On Roni Horn’s Library of Water'

[4-4:30pm Break]

4:30pm-6.30pm: Broader Discussion
Discussion of approaches and outlooks, with a specific focus on what happens when we think about close-reading and attention to literary form (both Greek and Roman materials) as at the heart of the critical project of Classics as an ongoing, future-oriented, timely and untimely, connected phenomenon. Framed around points for discussion set out below, in conjunction with readings indicated:

  • Postclassicisms §§1.3 (Time), 2.7 (Situatedness), and 2.8 (Untimeliness);
  • Classical Reception Journal 2020 articles by Holmes and Güthenke, and/or Holmes/Güthenke, 'Hyperinclusivity, hypercanonicity, and the future of the field’, in Marginality, Canonicity, Passion (2018);
  • Introduction to Antiquities Beyond Humanism (2019);
  • Hayot, 'Institutional inertia' and 'Then and now'.

Further/broader points for discussion:

• Relation between aesthetics and politics, mediated by concerns about the nature of our contemporary disciplinarity as Classicists/critics/philologists/theorists/historians even;

• The nature and prospects of reception studies, and its relation, or non-relation, to hermeneutics;

• What a critico-theoretically attuned classical philology might be or do in the future;

• What does close-reading do? What do people think it is for? Why is there an increasing wariness of it (if this is true)? How do philologists avoid defensiveness? What is an ethics of close-reading, and what does it offer?

• What is the burden of universalism with Greek literature and its relation to the history of thought? Why is the study of Latin literature less interested in universalising claims, to the extent that this is true?

• How do Classical philologists feel about comparative literature? What do they even know about it as a discipline? Why might this be an important factor?