Call for Papers

CFP: Failure and Flaws in Classical Antiquity
January 25-26, 2019, UCLA

In the poem “Failing and Flying”, Jack Gilbert appeals to classical imagery to reconfigure the notion of failure: “Icarus was not failing as he fell,” the poem concludes, “but only coming to the end of his triumph.” Throughout antiquity, numerous forms of literary and material culture, as well as forms of reception, have grappled with real or imagined failure and flaws. The concept of failure is especially pressing because modern society persistently looks back to antiquity’s failures in order to understand its own. By interrogating the use and meaning of failure both within classical works and in discussions about canon, genre, and reception, we aim to explore the interpretive value of failure for our understanding of the classical world.

The graduate students of the Department of Classics at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) are pleased to announce the forthcoming graduate conference “Failure and Flaws in Classical Antiquity”, which will take place January 25-26, 2019 at UCLA. The conference will feature a keynote address by Emily Greenwood (Professor of Classics, Yale University) on “Failure and Attribution: The Ethics and Politics of Reading Classical Failure.” Graduate students in Classics and related fields are welcome to submit proposals for papers on topics including, but not limited to, the following themes:

  • Intentional failure: failure as a deliberate philosophical, rhetorical, or artistic strategy.
  • Consciousness of potential failure in antiquity: the anxiety of ancient authors and artists about living up to their predecessors.
  • Literary treatments of failure: thwarted love, flawed characters, fruitless wanderings.
  • Failures of language and perception.
  • Failures of genre: texts or objects considered flawed or “less than” examples of a genre.
  • Modern and ancient reinterpretations of canonical texts or material objects as failing in some way.
  • Misapplications or appropriations of antiquity throughout history.

Please submit abstracts of approximately 300 words as a .pdf to gradconference2019@gmail.com by no later than October 15th, 2018. Papers should be a maximum of 20 minutes in length. Please include your name and contact details in the submission email but do not include any identifying markers (name, affiliation) in the abstract itself. Applicants will be notified of their status approximately a month after the deadline. Further information will be available at gradconference2019.wordpress.com.

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