2-3 March 2017
Concepts, Materiality and the Experience of Life
Health—we think we know what it is, until we start thinking about it. Is health the mere absence of disease? Does it always involve a subjective feeling of well-being? Is it a purely private concern, or something to be regulated by governments –and if so, how? Does health have a moral component? And to what extent does it lie in our control? All of these questions were equally alive and urgent in the ancient Mediterranean. During the 2017 CRASIS Master Class and Annual Meeting we therefore aim to explore what ‘health’ meant in the ancient world.
Conceptually, our sources reveal vastly different approaches to ‘health’, depending on region, time-period, political background, social and religious structures. Classical Greece, for example, saw the beginning of systematized medicine, with claims to a rationality that was supposed to set it apart from theological thinking. With this came materialist conceptions of health, rooted in elements observable in the natural world, and empirically-based arguments for cause and effect. But Greek (and later Greco-Roman) medicine was only one of many systems that addressed health and disease in antiquity, and it competed not only with much older, complex systems of medicine in other parts of the Mediterranean and the Near East, but also, internally, with non-literate traditions of ‘folkloric’ healing and temple medicine.
How did ancient discourses of health, with their particular terminologies, iconographies and contexts, relate to the institutional and religious frameworks, the places of healing and the practices in existence? And how can we square narratives of sickness and health and prescriptive regimes that have come down to us in the written sources, with the realities of ancient nutrition, disease, and life expectancy, accessible though modern archaeological science (such as paleo-osteology and paleo-botany)?
Keynote Speaker and Master
This year’s Master and Keynote Speaker is Ralph Rosen, Vartan Gregorian Professor of the Humanities and Professor of Classical Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. His expertise spans a wide field of interests, including ancient medicine and old comedy and satire. His most recent work is the co-edited volume Ancient Concepts of the Hippocratic, published with Brill.
Further information for PhD/ReMa students
Research Master students are expected to submit a paper of 3000-4000 words and PhD students a paper of 5000-6000 words. These papers will circulate among the participants and are to be submitted before 1 February 2017. During the Master Class participants will briefly present their paper, followed by a response and discussion under the expert guidance of professor Ralph Rosen. Student participation will be graded, and is eligible for the award of 2 ECTS from your institution or research school.
For more information, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.rug.nl/crasis.