Transformations of Antiquity in the Long Eighteenth Century NeMLA Montréal 2010 (submit paper abstract by Sept. 30th 2009)

full name / name of organization: 
Ulrike Wagner, Columbia University
contact email: 

Northeast Modern Language Association in Montréal, Quebec
April 7-11, 2010

Call for Papers for the session on Transformations of Antiquity in the Long Eighteenth Century (submit paper abstract by Sept. 30th 2009)

The vivid reconstructions of ancient art in Johann Joachim Winckelmann's Reflections on the Imitation of Greek Works in Painting and Sculpture sparked an enthusiastic revival of the past on a transnational scale. Johann Gottfried Herder hails Winckelmann's essay as the precursor to a specifically modern style of writing about classical art, and Germaine de Staël's cultural study De l'Allemagne designates his work as foundational to understanding Germany's emergence as a culture of modernity. In the early to mid nineteenth century, American critics assign Winckelmann's mode of engagement with antiquity an exemplary function for the revitalization of classical culture in America.
The reception of Winckelmann indicates a cross-cultural consensus by drawing attention to the eighteenth century as a period that generated fundamentally new ways of reinventing the past which were of great significance for the formation of modern cultural life. This panel seeks contributions which illuminate the transformative relation between ancient and modern culture on a transnational and interdisciplinary scale. Our approach to the topic coalesces around three major themes, open to further additions and expansions.
1) Media and representation: Paul Oskar Kristeller argued that the consideration of the arts as constituting their own field of study distinct from the sciences and other crafts was an outcome of the French Querelle des Anciens et des Modernes. We want to examine how and why debates over the prerogatives of ancient and modern culture affect the ways in which modern artists and critics discuss the materials which mediate a specific representation. 2) Theories of culture and interpretive practices: Ancient-Modern debates like the Querelle, the Battle of the Books or the Vorzugsstreit promote a varied set of readings of cultural development. How can we compare and contrast these theories of culture? What are their different methodological underpinnings? 3) Institutional Reform and Bildung: The comprehensive study of antiquity at universities shaped the modern ideal of a liberal education. What characterizes the new philological practices of reading ancient documents and works of art? And how do these techniques affect modes of modern individual and cultural self-fashioning?

Please send abstracts of 200-300 words and a brief biographical statement electronically by September 30th 2009 to Ulrike Wagner,

Ulrike Wagner
Columbia University
Germanic Languages Department