Archive for March 2016

[Previous message][Next message][Back to index]

[ecrea] Media and Classics Conference

Thu Mar 03 22:17:36 GMT 2016

*Media and Classics*

25-27 November 2016

Watershed, Bristol

Organized by the Institute of Greece, Rome and the Classical Tradition,
University of Bristol

‘The/realm of the dead is as/extensive as the storage and transmission
capabilities of a given culture,’writes the German media theorist
Friedrich Kittler in /Gramophone, Film, Typewriter /(originally
published in 1986). The emergence since the 1970s of electronic and
knowledge-based technologies, and more specifically of digital media,
has brought to the fore the close link that exists between media,
knowledge, and perception, a link generating both exhilaration and
anxiety. The centrality of media, however, to epistemological debates
around the ways in which knowledge is produced, stored, and disseminated
has a long history in Western thought. Under the banners of media
history, media archaeology, and cultural transmission, important work
has been undertaken in recent years on the history of media since the
Renaissance and on persistent tropes in media discourse that make it
possible to set current debates about digital media in a broader
historical and theoretical context. One of the most complex and
multifaceted case studies in the history of media in the West yet to
receive systematic examination has to do with the arts of ancient Greece
and Rome. What is the role of media (new and old, material and
spiritual, perceptible and imperceptible) in the formation and
reproduction of Greco-Roman arts and more broadly in what might be
called the transmission of ‘classical’ culture?

Certain aspects of this topic have been touched on by media theorists
(on both sides of the Atlantic) in suggestive but highly selective and
often problematic ways. Other aspects have been approached by classical
scholars in more careful but historically and disciplinary insular
manners. Issues such as orality, literacy, performance, memory,
materiality, the senses, textual transmission, translation, archival
practices, the history of the book, and more recently humanities
computing are all implicated in the production, transmission, and
reception of the Greco-Roman literary, performing, and plastic arts that
we now call classical. However, there has been no systematic attempt to
date to shift the focus away from issues of historical usage of media
towards more theoretical concerns that can link the media of the
classical past with one another, with larger processes of artistic
production and reception, and with contemporary debates around media,
knowledge, and perception. As a result, the processes of production and
reception of the arts of Greece and Rome are still perceived in ways
that remain at once too narrow and too broad: on the one hand they are
dominated by the agency of long-dead artists or ever-changing audiences;
on the other hand they are dominated by abstract ideas – the
continuities of the Classical Tradition, the discontinuities of
Reception, the cosiness of ‘conversing’ with the past, or the rather
nebulous qualities of textuality and visuality.

Revisiting Martin Heidegger’s provocative claim that ‘the more
questioningly we ponder the essence of technology, the more mysterious
the essence of art becomes’ (in his seminal essay ‘The Question
Concerning Technology’ originally published in 1954), this conference
focuses attention on the cultural history of the material conditions and
technical and technological practices that give shape to artistic
creativity and make possible its transmission as ‘classical’ and as
‘culture.’ How are media conceptualized by artistic works and their
users in Greece and Rome? How do media shape the specificity,
convergence, and/or transference of different artistic forms and
contents? How do continuities and ruptures in artistic production and
transmission manifest themselves? How are artworks, artists, and
audiences networked through material and embodied structures of media
technology? How are ideas, concepts, and practices related to the
classical arts implicated in the history and culture of modern
theoretical debates around media and information technology? And how are
they implicated in broader discussions around the philosophical
apparatus of technology, culture, and biology as they are played out
against a critique of modernity?

Papers are invited on topics in areas such as the following:

  * cultural transmission as reproduction and/or as transformation
  * art as techne between historicity and metaphysics
  * fantasies of communication and horizons of incommunicability
  * technologies of writing systems and scripts
  * media as conduits, languages, and/or environments
  * medium specificity and convergence
  * media and non-human agency
  * the body as a medium
  * humanism and anti-technological bias
  * Greece and Rome in debates in media theory
  * Greco-Roman arts in an age of media convergence, networks and

30-minute papers are anticipated, but proposals are also welcome for
presentations outside the normal lecture format, including proposals
from artists and other creative practitioners; please provide details of
your plans in your application. Prospective presenters should send a
title, an abstract of 500 words, and a short biography by 1 April 2016 to:

Pantelis Michelakis

(P.Michelakis /at/ <mailto:(P.Michelakis /at/>

ECREA-Mailing list
This mailing list is a free service offered by Nico Carpentier and ECREA.
To subscribe, post or unsubscribe, please visit
To contact the mailing list manager:
Email: (nico.carpentier /at/
ECREA - European Communication Research and Education Association
Chauss�de Waterloo 1151, 1180 Uccle, Belgium
Email: (info /at/

[Previous message][Next message][Back to index]