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The Reception of Greek and Roman Culture in East Asia

Texts & Artefacts, Institutions & Practices

Thursday, 4 July 2013 – Friday, 5 July 2013, Berlin

This conference sits squarely at the crossroads of many important contemporary conversations, both scholarly and popular. Over the past decade, scholars have examined the reception of the ancient Greek and Roman cultures around the globe. This has been done by analyzing the role of ancient Mediterranean culture in a variety of cultural instances; for example post-antique texts and images, ideology and institutions, as well as rituals and practices. The research has been wide-ranging, including examinations, for instance, of Greek tragedy in 20th-century African theatre and Latin poetry in colonial Mexico. Still there has not yet been a project dedicated solely to the reception of Greece and Rome in East Asia, despite tantalizing clues concerning the wealth of material available for investigation: from the Isopo Monogatari (伊曾保物語), a 16th-century Japanese edition of Aesop’s Fables, to a theatrical season in Beijing in July 2012 directed by the famed Li Liuyi that included both Sophocles’ Antigone (安提戈涅) and the Tibetan epicKing Gesar (格萨尔王).

This conference will explore the reception(s) of Greek and Roman culture in East Asia from antiquity to the present. That is, the conference seeks to explore the movement and transmission of knowledge between Western antiquity and East Asia as well as the circulation of this knowledge within East Asia. In particular, we are interested in the question of how and why ancient Greek and Roman texts, images, and material cultures and the knowledge and ideas contained within them have been adapted and refigured in East Asian texts, imagery, and cultural artefacts.

The ever-growing complexity of the relationship (economically, politically, and culturally) between East Asia and the “West” makes the study of the reception of Greco-Roman antiquity in East Asian cultures particularly relevant and timely, and most importantly not just a matter of academic interest. Since “Western” culture’s self-conception begins in Europe with ancient Greece and ancient Rome, the reception of ancient Greco-Roman cultures in East Asia provides an excellent point of reference for current intercultural and interdisciplinary dialogues in an increasingly globalizing world, particularly since the present era might be understood as a period characterized by an increase in the frequency, speed, and prevalence at which knowledge transfers between various points and people around the globe. This conference aims to explore this point of reference by bringing together an international and interdisciplinary group of scholars and practitioners (performing artists, writers, visual artists, and those working in theaters and museums) to analyze the many diverse aspects of the reception of Greek and Roman culture in East Asia.

On this webpage, you will find a wide variety of information relating to the conference, but if you still have questions, please feel free to contact us: grea@geschkult.fu-berlin.de