The Classical Association

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Classical Association Annual Conference 2015
            University of Bristol, 10-13 April 2015

In 2015 the Annual Conference of the Classical Association will be hosted by the Department of Classics and Ancient History at the University of Bristol. The conference dinner and final-night drinks reception will be held at The Grand Thistle City-Centre Hotel, Bristol.

Plenary speakers will be: Professor Miriam Leonard (UCL), author of Athens in Paris: Ancient Greece and the Political in Post-War French Thought (Oxford University Press, 2005) and Socrates and the Jews: Hellenism and Hebraism from Moses Mendelssohn to Sigmund Freud (University of Chicago Press, 2012), and Professor Shane Butler (Bristol) author of The Hand of Cicero (Routledge, 2002) and The Matter of the Page: Essays in Search of Ancient and Medieval Authors (University of Wisconsin Press, 2011).

We welcome proposals for papers (twenty minutes long followed by discussion) from graduate students, school teachers, academic staff, and others engaged with the Ancient World, on the themes suggested below, or on any other aspect of the Classical World. We encourage papers from a broad range of perspectives. We are particularly keen to receive proposals for coordinated panels (comprising either three or four papers on any classical topic). Suggested themes:

Recovering Reception. The discipline of Classics is heavily invested in the idea that the Classical Past is in constant need of recovery: but what might it mean to recover reception? Reception has become a familiar term in curricula and research. The CA seems an appropriate time to revisit these questions: what sort of history can we tell about reception as theory and as practice in Classical Studies? Have particular methodologies – cultural appropriation, history of ideas– been more popular than others, and why? Has reception become domesticated? Is it time to recall the original provocation of the term? What is to be gained from “reception”, which has made it more productive than, for instance, “the classical tradition”? We invite panels and papers engaging with theoretical aspects of reception, and/or studying reception across a range of cultural phenomena. We particularly welcome abstracts from those working in other disciplines, or those involved in the practise of reception.

Sustainable Classics. Classical Studies have, against the odds, retained a significant place in the academy and in the wider culture in an ever- changing world, but it is clear that we will have to continue to change and adapt to ensure our survival in future. We need to consider the threats the subject faces, the opportunities for new approaches (which can also be conceived of as threats to traditional disciplinary identities), and our response to wider social, cultural and economic trends. Key issues include the place of classics within the broader humanities; the survival of non-vocational subjects within an educational system that places ever greater emphasis on material benefit; the globalisation of Classics, and its relevance when most cultural trends now stretch well beyond Europe; and the impact of electronic connectivity and social media as both threats to traditional modes of scholarship and opportunities for new approaches and engagements. 

Classics and the Impact Agenda. Multidisciplinarity within Classics has always fostered collaboration with other disciplines across the Arts and Humanities and beyond, as well with other kinds of institutions. More recently, the impact agenda has forced us to consider on a more rigorous level the ways in which as Classicists we work with non-academic organisations, communities and schools. We welcome abstracts that celebrate the spirit and results of such collaboration. How can we as a discipline collectively respond to the challenges of impact? What kinds of new partnerships between universities and schools and communities are being developed? Is the impact agenda creating more opportunities for interdisciplinary approaches to what we do? Can we theorize the impact agenda? Particular consideration will be given to abstracts from those working in other academic disciplines or engaged with Classics outside the academy.

The Senses. There are clear signs of a ‘sensory turn’ in Classics and more generally in the humanities. What can attention to sensation teach us about the Ancient World? Is sensory experience a human universal (or at least something slow to change over time), or do the senses instead require the same kind of close historicizing that has been applied to other aspects of embodied experience? How does the reconstruction of ancient sensation supplement or correct traditional views of ancient life?
How, for example, do sensory topographies alter our understanding of ancient cities? What happens when we add sound, smell, texture, and temperature to our ‘view’ of ancient architecture and art? How did ancient thought regard the relative importance of the single senses, and what happened when normative hierarchies were subverted? Are there aspects of ancient life and letters that are pointedly ‘synaesthetic’? What challenges does the representation of sensory experience pose for language, and how did ancient writers cope with these? Finally, how do the textual and material remains of the past engage our own senses? Abstracts responding to any of these questions are welcomed.

Ecology and Eco-criticism. Ecocriticism is not only oriented towards the future and the environmental crisis which we face on this planet, it is also a mode of thinking which turns to the past and draws on fundamental questions which have resonated in the study of Classical Antiquity: how do humans represent and exist within ‘their natural environment’? What are the boundaries of the human and the non-human? How do humans accommodate change in the world? Ancient pastoral shapes and informs the representation of nature up to the present day, and prefigures the combined aesthetic and ideological apprehension of nature which is the hallmark of contemporary environmental consciousness. In ancient history, ecocritical concerns are addressed in studies of the interaction between city and country, of the exploitation of natural resources and of human responses to risk and catastrophe. We invite abstracts which approach the Ancient World and its culture from ecocritical and ecological perspectives, including pastoral modes of representation, responses to risk, change and catastrophe, conceptions of the natural and of the human, and how ancient ideas about the environment have resonated in the present.

Please send your title and abstract (no more than 300 words), not later than 29 August 2014, to ca-2015@bristol.ac.uk  Proposals for co-ordinated panels should include an abstract (no more than 300 words) outlining the overall theme of the panel, as well as abstracts for the individual papers within that panel. We prefer to receive abstracts by email attach¬ment. If submitting a proposal for a panel, please indicate at the end of your proposal whether you would be happy for your panel to be considered as separate papers. If you are submitting an abstract on one of our suggested themes, please state which theme at the top of the abstract.

Please note that all delegates, including those giving papers, must pay the conference fee in order to attend the conference. Applicants are advised that the conference fee for attending the whole conference including all meals and accommodation will be comparable with those of the previous conferences (at least £200 full fee with lunch but no accommodation, with concessions for students and the unwaged). Day rate fees will also be available as well as bursary schemes for teachers, students (both at UK and overseas institutions) and newly-graduated PG students. Details of how to apply for a bursary for this conference will be posted here in October 2014. Accommodation will be in Bristol hotels at a range of prices.

We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible in Bristol!

Future Conferences

Here's where we're heading next (dates where given are provisional and may be subject to change):

2016: Edinburgh 6-9 April
2017: Kent


CA2015 Bursaries

The CA provides a generous bursary scheme to assist teachers, students (at both UK and overseas institutions) and recently graduated PG students to attend the conference. Full bursaries for CA2015 will cover conference fees and accommodation; half bursaries will cover the conference fees. Full details of how to apply will be posted here in October 2014.


Past Conferences

For details of past conferences, including details of abstracts and panels where possible, please click here.