Classics Goes Green: Interactions with the Environment in the Ancient World

*Deadline extended: Abstracts due by December 2, 2011*

The relationship between mankind and the environment has long been a rich and intriguing aspect in the study of history. Environmental changes and natural disasters have prompted cultural change and innovation. Humans have, in turn, left their mark on the environment, altering their landscapes physically and mentally, purposely and inadvertently. From the locations of successful cities and the effects of terracing and water engineering on the Greek landscape to Virgil’s creation of an idealized, if not idyllic, Italy, the environment often shaped and was shaped by economic, cultural, and religious practice in antiquity.

Landscapes and the environment have left a physical manifestation that can be directly studied through archaeological examination.  The cultural effects of the environment are also preserved in many ancient texts:  for instance, ancient historians were aware of the impact that environment, climate, or landscape might have on human events, while poets and agricultural writers reflected on the dual nature of the environment as both hostile and life-giving, and philosophers investigated the interrelation of man and nature. In modern scholarship, this integral connection between humans and the environment has long been a point of discussion, and is experiencing a new surge in popularity with the increasing connection of environmental research into classical studies.

This conference will explore how mankind conceived of and expressed its relationship with the environment, and how this relationship can be tracked in the archaeological, documentary, or literary record. We invite submissions from all Classics subfields and related disciplines, including ancient history, literature, material and visual culture, Greco-Roman and Near Eastern religions, anthropology, and philosophy.  Possible topics for presentation could include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • The role of weather in shaping historical events
  • Landscape in archaeology, including cultural heritage management
  • Trash in antiquity: reuse, recycling, and rubbish
  • The effects of agriculture development on the landscape
  • Imitation (or not) of nature in architecture, material culture, and art
  • Cartography: controlling and organizing the “known world”
  • Experiences of the natural world in epic poetry
  • Cultural responses to local, regional, or global environmental changes

Graduate students wishing to present a paper at the conference should submit a  titled abstract of 300 words or less to classicsgoesgreen[at] by December 2nd. Please include your name, institution, contact information, and the title of  your abstract in the body of the email. Papers should be no longer than 20 minutes in length. Notifications will be sent by mid-November. Questions about the conference can be directed to Emilia Oddo at the same email address.