Memoryscapes (digital, locational, imagined) | Memories of Antiquity WG NUBS 4.06
Jul 05, 2023 11:00 - 12:30(Europe/London)
20230705T1100 20230705T1230 Europe/London 3.4. Remembering Antiquity: A Longue Durée Approach

While the study of antiquity and its reception has always been a subject of scholarship, there still exists relatively little theoretical work on the ways in which reception operates in practice. In the West, classical works, images, narratives and characters have an extremely long- and wide-ranging diachronic and synchronic reception history, which should be approached with a set of tools that does not lose track of the ways in which reception histories shift with the times – with the meanings that are created anew at each point of reception, to paraphrase Charles Martindale's well-known dichtum from Redeeming the Text: Latin Poetry and the Hermeneutics of Reception (1993).Both within and outside of the academy we are currently witnessing a growing interest in antiquity and its reception, evidenced both by the growth of Reception Studies as a discipline as well as the exploding catalogue of works in popular culture that engage with (especially Graeco-Roman) antiquity. Antiquity is everywhere – from the books in various university libraries, to the bestseller lists at Waterstones, to our TV screens and even gaming consoles. They are so prominent, and have been for such a long time that, as Astrid Erll already outlined in 2018, '[c]lassical receptions are essentially a form of cultural memory. There is a great and as yet largely untapped potential for a dialogue between the two fields' ('Homer: A relational mnemonhistory', Memory Studies, p.283). This panel aims to get this dialogue started by approaching the study of classical reception through the lens of memory. We are considering in collecting a set of case wide-ranging studies that understand antiquity as a set of cultural memories (using concepts like narrative topoi, memoryscapes, archaeologies of r ...

NUBS 4.06 MSA Conference Newcastle 2023 conference@memorystudiesassociation.org
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While the study of antiquity and its reception has always been a subject of scholarship, there still exists relatively little theoretical work on the ways in which reception operates in practice. In the West, classical works, images, narratives and characters have an extremely long- and wide-ranging diachronic and synchronic reception history, which should be approached with a set of tools that does not lose track of the ways in which reception histories shift with the times – with the meanings that are created anew at each point of reception, to paraphrase Charles Martindale's well-known dichtum from Redeeming the Text: Latin Poetry and the Hermeneutics of Reception (1993).

Both within and outside of the academy we are currently witnessing a growing interest in antiquity and its reception, evidenced both by the growth of Reception Studies as a discipline as well as the exploding catalogue of works in popular culture that engage with (especially Graeco-Roman) antiquity. Antiquity is everywhere – from the books in various university libraries, to the bestseller lists at Waterstones, to our TV screens and even gaming consoles. They are so prominent, and have been for such a long time that, as Astrid Erll already outlined in 2018, '[c]lassical receptions are essentially a form of cultural memory. There is a great and as yet largely untapped potential for a dialogue between the two fields' ('Homer: A relational mnemonhistory', Memory Studies, p.283). This panel aims to get this dialogue started by approaching the study of classical reception through the lens of memory. We are considering in collecting a set of case wide-ranging studies that understand antiquity as a set of cultural memories (using concepts like narrative topoi, memoryscapes, archaeologies of remembrance, travelling memory, oral memory, lieux de mémoire, etc.), to explore the ways in which reception operates when considering the longue durée histories of classical myths, figures, and narratives.

The panel takes a transtemporal approach, featuring memory-driven engagements with the classics across several thousand years. Firstly, Prof. Ray Pearson's talk focuses on the ways in which scribal memory operates within scribal performance, using text-critical examples from the Book of Psalms that contributed to a type of textual transmission that allows "variants" within scribal memory as an expression of the tradition. Secondly, Prof. Catherine Gaullier-Bougassas discusses the memory of the foundations of Thebes and Athens as expressed in French medieval texts; analysing how medieval authors reinvent myths of urban foundation and founding heroes from antiquity. Subsequently, Dr. Madeleine Scherer will discuss works from across modern and contemporary media, including 2018's God of War that engage with antiquity in a memory-driven manner, utilising schema theory to conteptualise the way in which antiquity has been adapted in an age of new orality. Lastly, Jakob Schneider's theory-driven paper will trace the ways in which the foundational works of Jan and Aleida Assmann have paved the ways for memory studies and the study of antiquity to become 'natural allies'.



Raymond F. Person, Jr., Ohio Northern University

Embodiment and Epistemics in the Composition/Transmission of Ancient Texts

Literary texts in primarily oral cultures like ancient Israel, ancient Greece, and Anglo Saxon England are not simply static retrieval mechanisms that can be stored until they might be needed again, but are mnemonic devices that facilitate the creative activity of remembering (not memorizing) the broader tradition so that it can continue to live in the oral aural communication of ongoing performances. This insight has been taken from the comparative study of oral traditions (Foley 2006) and then applied to ancient and medieval literature in discussions of textual transmission within the ideas of scribal performance (O'Keefe 1990; Doane 1994; Ready 2019) and scribal memory (Kirk 2008; Miller 2019). Previous discussions of scribal performance have been based on careful text critical work and have drawn from the intuitions of scholars of the comparative study of oral traditions (Lord 1960; Foley 1990) concerning the cognitive linguistic mechanisms of transmission. Recent studies of scribal memory have made more explicit the role of memory in scribal performance. In some recent studies (Person 2021; 2022; 2022; forthcoming) I have provided a cognitive linguistic explanation of how textual plurality and textual fluidity can be understood as a natural phenomenon within textual composition/transmission in the ancient world, drawing significantly from Conversation Analysis (CA), especially Jefferson 1996. With this new perspective, we can better understand so called text critical variants as naturally occurring in the composition/transmission of ancient literary texts. This paper builds upon these recent studies, making even more explicit the connection between these cognitive linguistic mechanisms and the CA understanding of embodied actions (Heath and Luff 2013) and epistemics (Heritage 2013). That is, this paper concerns how scribal performance is embodied in human interaction and how scribal memory operates within scribal performance, thereby explaining the very existence of text critical "variants" in ancient texts from a cognitive linguistic perspective. The text critical examples from the Book of Psalms used in this paper illustrate for the first time how the poetic characteristic of rhyme contributed to a type of textual transmission.


Catherine Gaullier-Bougassas, University of Lille France

The memory of the foundations of Thebes and Athens in French medieval texts: reinterpretations and reflections on the birth of a community (12th-15th centuries) 

The present proposal deals with the memory of the foundations of Thebes and Athens in French medieval texts. From texts belonging to different genres of writing, novels, chronicles and mythographic treatises, we will study the recreation and reinterpretation of the ancient memory of the myths of Cadmos and Amphion for Thebes, of Athena, Poseidon and Cecrops for Athens. We will analyze how medieval authors reinvent in French these myths of urban foundation and the portraits of the founding heroes and we will wonder about the powers and virtues they put forward to exalt the communities they reimagine; we will study how, by recreating this ancient memory, they inscribe in their works a reflection on the birth of a community and the necessary foundations for the creation of a city.


Madeleine Scherer, University of Warwick

The Classics in Contemporary Media: Remembering Antiquity

Memory is the topic of many modern engagements with antiquity, and it is also the modus operandi of many modern adaptations of antiquity, driven and shaped by the ever-changing ways in which 'the classics' are conceptualised within different time-periods and socio-cultural contexts. Popular awareness of classical materials, their socio-economic status, how famous characters and stories are perpetuated through mnemonic adaptation – these are important factors of memory-driven reception that deserve to be investigated as part of classical reception studies. In this talk, using examples from modern and contemporary media, I discuss a selection of different ways in which interdisciplinary connections between memory studies and classical reception studies can be established, drawing particularly on schema theory as used in Erll (2018) and Scherer (2021).


Jakob Schneider, Humboldt University

Memory and Ancient Studies: A Complicated Relationship

In theory, Memory Studies and Ancient Studies should be natural allies. The interest in all matters of the past on the one hand and the inquiries on the remembrance of this past on the other creates a natural overlap of topics and questions which are prone to inspire cooperation and mutual research. However, because of various disciplinary peculiarities both sides continue to operate rather detached from each other. While modern Memory Studies are mainly concerned with issues from the 20th and 21st centuries, larger parts of Ancient Studies have not updated their theoretical apparatus for some time and are often unaware of their scientific partners in crime. And even in fields like Reception Studies both sides often operate mostly independent from each other despite the overarching overlap of topics and questions.

Curiously enough, there was a time when both worlds met indeed. The fundamental works of Aleida and Jan Assmann on memory theory paved the way for further interdisciplinary engagements which unfortunately did not came to pass until now. And while this fact does not undermine the enormous work which was carried out by both fields, one cannot deny the great yet unexplored potential which would lie in a renewal of this relationship. The talk will explore this potential as well as the disciplinary history which has led to the current state of affairs to create a framework for the goals and purposes of the Memories of Antiquities working group. 

Professor of Religion and Director of Interdisciplinary Studies
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Ohio Northern University
Professor
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University of Lille, France
Associate Lecturer
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The University of Warwick
Humboldt University of Berlin
Professor Astrid Erll
Professor
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Goethe University Frankfurt / The Frankfurt Memory Studies Platform
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