A New Major Lecture Series
The past is full of surprises.
Inaugural program, April 14-21, 2022:
President of the American Council of Learned Socieities
The Penn Public Lectures on Classical Antiquity and the Contemporary World aim to advance understanding of the many ways the past is put to use in building the present. They will be delivered by visionary scholars of ancient Greece and Rome, who will reimagine the role those ancient cultures have played over time in the building of later cultural forms, including the discipline of Classical Studies itself.
Some elements of ancient Greek and Roman cultures find echoes, and often deliberate citation, in U.S. politics, architecture, education, and culture. Histories can be traced with greater and lesser degrees of analytical responsibility, and in ways that sometimes enable and sometimes impede both a full understanding of the past, and the ongoing imperatives toward social justice in the present. A renewed engagement with antiquity will invigorate conversation on urgent topics of the day, including on questions of race, gender, freedom, empire, the uses of violence, the contours of personal and national identities, interactions between nature and culture, popular sovereignty, and the pursuit of happiness.
We aim for the series to bring wider publics into the dialogue between past and present, and deepen insight into the modes by which producers of culture fashion the present out of what precedes it.
The Penn Public Lectures aim to advance the public good in the United States through lively, rigorous, and timely engagement with the classical past.
The series is supported by the Arete Foundation in honor of Edward E. Cohen.