Call for Papers: Stranger Things: An Interdisciplinary Conference on Marvels in the Ancient World

Graduate Student Conference

University of Pennsylvania

May 18, 2018

Keynote Speaker: Professor Courtney Ann Roby (Cornell University)

The literatures and material cultures of the ancient Mediterranean world manifest an abiding interest in wonder and the wondrous, often described with such marked vocabulary as θαῦμα, ἄπιστος, and παράδοξος, on the Greek side, and mirabile, miraculum, and monstrum, on the Latin side.

As early as the Homeric epics, we find a fascination in the emotional efficacy and persuasive power of wonder. In later periods, Herodotus is drawn to Egypt because it contains ‘the most’ marvels. Plato and Aristotle suggest that wonder, and not utilitarian concerns, originally inspired people to undertake philosophical inquiry. However, wonder can also distract people from the truth. Pliny the Elder is troubled by the human desire not only to imitate but also to reimagine natural marvels by blurring the lines between categories like god/human/animal, living/dead, man/woman, and fiction/reality.

Authors of the Hellenistic and imperial periods ponder the characteristics of wonder itself. We find the most straightforward evidence of this in the believe-it-or-not lists of paradoxographers like Callimachus, Antigonus, and Phlegon of Tralles. However, this activity also occurs more subtly across other genres, from the technical works of Hero of Alexandria, to the satires of Juvenal, to the verse of Ovid, to the prose fiction of Achilles Tatius, Apuleius, and Lucian. This phenomenon is embedded in the broader contemporary cultural practices of collecting and displaying curiosities, of transforming visual landscapes with illusionistic artistic techniques, of impersonating historical, divine and legendary figures, and of testing the limits of representation.

This interdisciplinary conference seeks to explore wonder and the wondrous from a variety of angles. We welcome papers that investigate particular texts, artefacts, places, and phenomena of the ancient Mediterranean world that intersect with this topic. We also welcome papers that explore the reception of ancient wonders and conceptions of the wondrous in subsequent periods and cultural contexts, up to and including our own, and papers that examine the topic from a theoretical perspective. We are interested in receiving papers from Classics, Ancient History, Art & Archaeology, Religious Studies, Philosophy, Anthropology, Women & Gender Studies, History of Science and Medicine, and other related disciplines.

Paper topics might investigate, but are certainly not limited to:
• the genre of paradoxography
• wonder-making in public spectacle
• the role of wonder in the pursuit of knowledge (philosophical or technical)
• the wondrous in the ancient novel
• rhetorical prolaliai and other prose genres

• the depiction of the wondrous in wall painting, mosaic, and other visual media
• wondrous objects as literary metaphors
• the exoticizing of the other and the familiar
• wonder-collecting in an imperial context

Papers should be 15-20 minutes in length. Please send abstracts of no more than 200 words to by March 11th, 2018. Successful applicants will be notified by March 18th, 2018.

Johanna Kaiser, Maria Kovalchuk, and Scheherazade Khan
The Conference Organizers

Conférence Pierre Mbid Diouf: “Pratiques médicales dans le monde gréco-romain…”

Dans le cadre de ses activités, le laboratoire de recherche DECRYPTA de l’École doctorale ARCIV vous invite à la conférence qu’il organise le samedi 10 juin 2017 à 09h à la salle 57  sur le thème intitulé :

« Pratiques médicales dans le monde gréco-romain : exemples des traitements des fractures et luxations, des calculs rénaux, des ophtalmies et de la goutte »


Intervenant : M. Pierre Mbid Hamoudi DIOUF, Enseignant-chercheur au Département de Langues et Civilisations anciennes, FLSH/ UCAD (

Medicine and Mechanics in Antiquity: Towards an Early History of Iatromechanics

We are pleased to announce a one-day workshop on “Medicine and Mechanics in Antiquity: Towards an Early History of Iatromechanics”, which will take place at the University of Cyprus (Nicosia) on the 1st of December 2017. The workshop has no registration fee, but, if you wish to attend, please contact jointly the organizers, Maria Gerolemou ( and George Kazantzidis ( A detailed programme will be circulated in due time.

Speakers include:

Marquis Berrey (Iowa)
Sean Coughlin (Humboldt)
Jane Draycott (Glasgow)
Maria Gerolemou (University of Cyrpus)
George Kazantzidis (Patras)
Orly Lewis (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
Kirsi Lorentz (The Cyprus Institute)
Alexia Petsalis-Diomidis (Oxford)
Courtney Roby (Cornell)
Ian Ruffell (Glasgow)
Matteo Valleriani (Max Planck Institute)

The aim of this workshop is to explore the dialogue between the sciences of medicine and mechanics in classical antiquity. Iatromechanics (or iatrophysics) makes its appearance as a medical school of thought during the seventeenth century: by adopting mechanical principles in order to explain human physiology, its proponents advance the view that human life can be fully explained in terms of physics, and cures really only need to restore the proper functioning of the human machine by tightening or loosening or tinkering with the mechanism. Our aim is to examine the extent to which similar models of the human body can be traced in ancient medical texts (as was maintained, for the first time systematically, in the work of Friedrich Hoffmann, 1660-1742; cf. Lonie 1981), in association with the increased anatomical knowledge gained through dissection and in dialogue with scientific advancements in the field of mechanics – especially from the Hellenistic period onward. At the same time, we wish to discuss the adaptation of medical lore and discourse in mechanical texts, in contexts where engineers contrive and produce artifacts which, though extending beyond the natural world, are still conceived in analogy with the human body and its functions. By insisting on the desired life-like qualities of its technology, ancient mechanics invokes medicine in a way that essentially blurs the line between the natural and the artificial, by inviting us to view the operation of a well-crafted machine in light of the spontaneous automatisms that rule human life.

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February, 2, 2017
Organizers: César Sierra Martín (Università della Calabria) and Borja Antela-Bernárdez (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona).


9:15 Recepción

9:30-10:00  Dr. César Sierra (Università della Calabria), “Presentación. Historia y Medicina en la Antigüedad

Sesión 1

10:00-10:30 A. Martínez  (UAB), “Un jardí tancat: La virginitat femenina segons la Tanakh i el Talmud”

10:30-11:00 Dr. F. J. Gómez Espelosín  (Universidad de Alcalá), “La salud en los confines del mundo”.

11:00-11:30 Dr. B. Antela-Bernárdez, “Medicina, curación y poder”.

11:30-11:45 Debate

11:45-12:15 Pausa

Sesión 2

12:15-12:45 Dr. G. Squillace  (Università della Calabria), “Medicina in Magna Grecia: Filistione di Locri”.

12:45-13:30 Dr. A. Cristofori  (Università di Bologna), “La figura sociale del medico nell’opera di Marziale”.

13:30-13:45 Debate

13:45-15:00 Pausa

Sesión 3

15:00-15:30 Dr. A. López Férez (UNED – Madrid), “La historia y los historiadores en Galeno”.

15:30-16:00 Dr. A. Roselli  (Universitá L’Orientale di Nápoli), “Galeno a Roma. Medici e filosofi e la dietetica per le élites”.

16:00-16:30 Dr. I. Rodríguez  (Universidad de Cádiz), “Estilos y hábitos de vida higiénica según el tratados Sobre la conservación de la salud de Galeno”.

16:30-17:00  Debate y Clausura.

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