Speaker: Catherine Michael Chin, Associate Professor of Classics at University of California, Davis
Title: "The Future Is Very Far Away and We Have Not Arrived There Yet: Early Christian Afterlives and Classical Receptions"
Abstract: This presentation will be a precirculated selection of my current work in progess, which examines the life and writings of Rufinus of Aquileia, the late antique translator and ascetic theorist. Rufinus’s fascination with the late Platonic theology of Origen (and implicitly that of Origen’s coeval Plotinus) prompts a fundamental historical question: what did it feel like to believe that one lived in an Origenist or Neoplatonic universe? That is, taking Rufinus and Origen as our case study, what can we imagine were the experiential dimensions of theological or philosophical belief in late antiquity? The selections of my work that will be precirculated will address this question in two ways. First, I consider what Rufinus’s theory of the afterlife would have been from within this late Platonist cosmology, and I speculate through written and visual media on what it would be like to experience such an afterlife. Second, I examine the historiographical implications of this question and ask, what media might historians of the ancient world be able to use to analyze or convey ancient experience in contemporary bodies? Using the arts model of practice as research, I attempt to outline a mode of research on and reception of the ancient Mediterranean world that is both intellectually rigorous and experientially immediate.
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