ACLA 2014: Capital Flow: Education as Exchange in Antiquity and the Renaissance

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Claire Sommers & Luisanna Sardu/CUNY Graduate Center
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Aristotle, in his Nicomachean Ethics, states that reciprocal exchange is the glue which holds society together, saying “The very existence of the state depends on proportionate reciprocity…failing which no exchange takes place, and it is exchange that binds them together…it is a duty not only to repay a service done one, but another time to take the initiative in doing a service oneself” (NE V.v.7).

The exchange of capital impels association among individuals, and therefore creates the foundation of a society. While many physical objects may be exchanged, it is a society’s collective knowledge that defines its identity; its ideas are its capital. The exchange of ideas is accomplished through education, the transfer of cultural capital from one entity to another; this movement of capital can occur between individuals, characters in a literary work, cities, countries, or continents. This exchange in turn leads to the production of new knowledge and, thus, new cultural capital. Focusing upon Antiquity and the Renaissance, the aim of this panel is to explore how the exchange of knowledge creates new cultural capital and to consider the role of education as currency and, thus, a form of capital in its own right. Some of the questions this panel seeks to answer include, but are not limited to:

• How does education become a means of production of new capital? How is it a form of currency or capital itself?
• How is capital created through a dialogue and exchange of ideas between people?
• How is capital created through an individual’s movement and between locations?
• How do new transcultural perspectives inject new cultural capital into the system? How does transoceanic or transcontinental exchange then create new cultural capitals? How does this exchange expand and/or reinforce current cultural identities?
• How is capital created as an idea moves from one person or place to another? Is this capital then reciprocated? If the exchange is one-sided, does this affect the capital being created?
• What is the motive for this exchange of capital? Is it for profit? Is the creation of new capital equally beneficial to both parties?
• Does the medium in which this exchange of capital takes place affect its value? Are certain media or genres more conducive to the exchange of capital than others?
• Can the acquisition of knowledge/capital occur only through exchange?
• How is the text itself a form of capital? Does the exchange between author and reader help to create capital?
• How can modern critical, economic, and social theories help to shed light on ancient and Renaissance conceptions of the relationship among education, knowledge, and capital?
• How does the cultural capital created give value to the exchange of ideas? Does the exchange process become more valuable if the knowledge arising from it is more valuable?

We are seeking papers centering primarily upon Antiquity and/or the Renaissance and we welcome papers dealing with texts of all genres (literature, philosophy, dialogue, epistle, poetry, history, memoir, biography, essay, epic, tragedy, comedy, novel/novella, pedagogical methods, music, the visual arts, etc.).

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