Conversations with Antiquity
No past is more present than the classical past, and if, as historians, we are interested in how the past has been deployed in service of a present, no past is more present than re-purposed antiquity. The classical past has been mapped, used, consumed and abused by more cultures for more diverse ends than any other past. This course is designed to explore some of the many conversations conducted with classical culture, from the first encounters with antiquity in the Renaissance to the fascist appropriations of the early 20th century. From the unearthing of the Laocoön, to the first modern publications of classical literature, the commentaries on them, the re-construction projects of the Italian academies, the resurgence of classical learning, and its installation at the core of curricula, the imitation of classical forms, classical genres of tragedy, comedy, pastoral, ballet and opera, the debates of the ancients and the moderns, to the Greek Revival of the 18th century, the reclamation of Rome as a constellation of Republican values, the birth of modern Republics, and the creation of a modernist aesthetic based in the now timeless ethos of antiquity, and the return of antiquity was a vital force of culture in the west. The broad approach of this seminar considers the theme of dialogue between periods, triangulated across centuries, through many mediums. Antiquity has been used and abused, claimed and quarreled over, mapped and re-mapped with the values of each generation.