NeMLA 2020: The Classical Classroom: Learning and Literature in Antiquity and Beyond

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Claire Sommers/Washington University in St. Louis
contact email: 

The English word “school” derives from the Greek word scholia, which may also be translated as “leisure.” It is perhaps because of this association between school and leisure that education in Greece and Rome was not confined to the schoolroom but was present in all aspects of Classical life, including its literature. The earliest examples of Greek literature, the poetry of Homer and Hesiod, were written not only to entertain but to teach, while the audiences of Classical theatre were directed to learn from the plays that they watched. Subsequent Greco-Roman literary works frequently emphasized the educational progress of their characters. Even the philosophical texts of Plato, Seneca, and Plutarch were appreciated for their literary merits as well as for their instructional value.


This panel will explore the various conceptions and uses of the education in Greco-Roman literature, drama, and philosophy as well as the influence of these Classical ideas on subsequent time periods. Possible approaches include:


· Depictions of education and learning in all genres of Classical literature


· The educational intention of literary works


· The literary dimension of non-fiction and philosophical works


· Demonstrations of the educational process in Classical writing


· The influence of various Classical educational schools and methods on literature


· Depictions of teachers and instructors in the Classics


· The evolution of education in literature over antiquity


· Education in the theatre


· Didactic poetry and education


· Mythology and education


· Reading and writing as modes of education


· Didactic allusions to ancient sources in Classical literature and philosophy


· Didactic allusions to the Classics in texts of subsequent time periods

Please submit a 300 word abstract and 100 word bio by September 30, 2019. You will need to create an user account through the NeMLA website ( in order to submit an abstract. Contact Claire Sommers ( with any questions.