Imagined Beginnings: The Poetics and Politics of Cosmogony, Theogony and Anthropogony in the Ancient World

April 8–10, 2011 — The Franke Institute

As the subtitle suggests, this conference will focus on how poets/prophets/ priests/magicians made creation stories (poetics) and why ancient cultures found them so attractive and useful (politics). We are also interested in cultures that do not generate or emphasize such primal stories or that focus instead on the creation of a powerful metropolis or empire, rather than the cosmos, the human race or the gods.

The conference, we hope, will have papers on Babylonian, Egyptian, Hittite, Jewish, Greek, Roman, Norse, Celtic, Persian creation stories, etc. addressed to specialists and non-specialists alike.

FRIDAY, APRIL 8:
Session 1: In the Beginning (Chair: Chris Faraone) 2:00-2:30 

  • Dean’s Welcome: Martha Roth (NELC and Dean of the Humanities)
  • Opening Remarks: James M. Redfield (Social Thought): “On Poetics and Politics”

Session 2: Poetics 1 (Chair: Chris Faraone) 2:30-4 PM:

  • Kevin Wanner (Western Michigan University)
    “Skapan í skáldskap ok skáldskaparskapan: Creation in and Creation of Norse Poetry”
  • Martha Roth (NELC)
    “The Five Senses in the Biblical Creation Narrative”

Coffee Break 4:00 – 4:30

Session 3: Politics 1 (Chair: Fritz Graf) 4:30 – 6:45PM

  • Bruce Lincoln (History of Religions)
    “The Fall from the One to the Many:
    Politics, Ethics, and Aesthetics in Iranian Creation Accounts.”
  • Maurizio Bettini (Siena/Berkeley)
    “Missing Cosmogonies: The Case of Rome?”
  • Cliff Ando (Classics)
    “Thinking Historically and Historical Time”

Reception and Roundtable Discussion (6:45 PM):

  • Roundtable Discussants (in addition to speakers and session chairs): Jan Bremmer (Groningen), Chris Faraone (Classics), Fritz Graf (Ohio State), Ann Gunter (Northwestern), Jonathan Hall (Classics), Nanno Marinatos (University of Illinois at Chicago), Laura Slatkin (NYU), Jeffrey Stackert (Divinity), Froma Zeitlin (Princeton).

Dinner (7:30 PM)

 

SATURDAY, APRIL 9:

Session 4: Politics 2 (Chair: Jonathan Hall) 9:00-10:30

  • Mary Bachvarova (Willamette University):
    “On Cosmogonies and King Lists: Syro-Anatolian Courts in the History of the World”
  • Sara L Forsdyke (Michigan)
    “‘Born from the Earth’: The Political Uses of an Athenian Myth.”

Coffee Break 10:30-11

Session 5: Poetics 2 (Chair: Laura Slatkin) 2:30-4:00

  • Boris Maslov (Comparative Literature)
    “From (Theogonic) Mythos to (Poetic) Logos: Pindar’s Genealogical Metaphors”
  • Andrea Seri (NELC)
    “The Role of Creation in Enuma Elish”

Lunch 12:30-2:30

Session 6: Visual Representation (Chair: Emanuel Mayer) 11:00-12:30

  • Richard Neer (Art)
    “Space, Time and Origin in Early Greek Pedimental Sculpture.”
  • Marian Feldman (Berkeley)
    “Recreating the World in the Image of Assyria: Representations of the Other in Neo-Assyrian Art”

Coffee Break 4:00 – 4:30

Session 7: Ritual (Chair: Jan Bremmer) 4:30-6:45

  • Robert Ritner (NELC)
    “Theogonies and Cosmogonies in Egyptian Ritual”
  • Sarah Johnston (Ohio State)
    “In (Further) Praise of Chaos: A Cosmogony and Its Ritual Implications”
  • Gideon Bohak (Tel Aviv University)
    “The Uses of Cosmogonic Myths in Ancient Jewish Magic”

Reception and Roundtable Discussion 6:45-7:30

  • Roundtable Discussants (in addition to speakers and session chairs): Jan Bremmer (Groningen), Chris Faraone (Classics), Fritz Graf (Ohio State), Ann Gunter (Northwestern), Jonathan Hall (Classics), Nanno Marinatos (University of Illinois at Chicago), Laura Slatkin (NYU), Jeffrey Stackert (Divinity), Froma Zeitlin (Princeton).

Dinner 7:30

 

SUNDAY, APRIL 10:

Session 8: Poetics 3 (Chair: Chris Woods) 9:00 – 10:30

  • Carolina Lopez-Ruiz (Ohio State)
    “The Poetics of Beginnings in Eastern Mediterranean Cosmogonies”
  • Piotr Michalowski (Michigan)
    “The Past is not Even the Past: The Poetics of Mesopotamian Literary Antiquity”

Coffee Break 10:30-11:00

Session 9: Cosmogonies (Chair: Margaret Mitchell) 11:00-12:30

  • Simeon Chavel (Divinity)
    “The Imagined Beginnings of the World and of Humanity in Genesis 1-3.”
  • Will Sayers (Cornell)
    “Celtic Cosmogony through a Medieval Christian Irish Filter”

Lunch 12:30-1:30 with Closing Remarks by Jan Bremmer (Groningen)

Resources

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