Announcing “Stranger Things: A Graduate Interdisciplinary Conference on Marvels”

The Department of Classical Studies will be hosting a graduate student conference on Friday, May 18th, 2018. The topic of the conference is wonder and the wondrous in the ancient Mediterranean world.

The literatures and material cultures of the ancient Greeks and Romans manifest an abiding interest in marvelous people, animals, objects, places, and events. This interest is discernible across literary genres, from the paradoxographical lists of Callimachus, to 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. The fascination with wonder is also embedded in the ancient practices of collecting and displaying material curiosities, of transforming visual landscapes with illusionistic artistic techniques, of impersonating historical, divine and legendary figures, and of testing the limits of representation.

The conference will explore these and other related topics. It will feature eight graduate student speakers and a keynote address by Professor Courtney Ann Roby of Cornell University. The event is free and open to all. 

All sessions will be held in room 401, Fisher-Bennett Hall at the southeast corner 34th and Walnut Streets.


1:00-1:25 PM Enrico Santachiara (Exeter):

Si somnus ille est mentis attonitae stupor: Wonder as a Philosophical Concept in Seneca’s Works”

1:25-1:50 PM Rik Peters (UChicago):

“Thaumatophobia in Aristotle and Hellenistic Thought

2:00-2:25 PM Kathleen Cruz (Princeton):

Deconstructing the Marvelous: The Narrative Reorientation of Polyphemus in Odyssey 9

2:25-2:50 PM Mali Skotheim, Ph.D. (Wisconsin):

“Thaumatopoioi: Marvel-Markers on the Hellenistic and Roman Stage

2:50-3:10 PM Coffee Break

3:10-3:35 PM Tyler Creer (UVA):

The Wondrous World of Ammianus’ Julian

3:35-4:00 PM Judith Weston (UPenn):

Ovidian Women: Transforming Desire in the Romance of the Rose.”

4:10-4:35 PM Luke Madson (Villanova):

Diagnosing the Hero: The Heart of Aristomenes of Messene

4:35-5:00 PM Wesley Hanson (UPenn):

Marvels in Tacitus’ Annals

5:10-6:00 PM Professor Courtney Ann Roby (Cornell):

Keynote Address: Tactical animals, mechanical stars: technical wonder and nature in Greco-Roman antiquity

Please contact conference organizers Johanna Kaiser, Scheherazade Khan, and Maria Kovalchuk at for more information.