COLLOQUIUM: Edmund Richardson, Durham, "Can Classical Reception Keep Its Promises?"

Thursday, September 14, 2017 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm

402 Cohen Hall

Over the last two decades, classical reception has become a wide-ranging and voracious discipline. Yet scholarly consensus is hard to find on many fundamental questions regarding what reception consists of, and what its practice should involve. This paper asks whether the current theoretical foundations of classical reception are appropriate for much of the current work being done in the field. It asks three key questions of reception theory:

How do texts make meaning – and how do we decide which meanings should be supported? Reception theory argues that meaning can only be arrived at dialogically – but it does not claim that all readings of the ancient world are equally valid. How, then, does classical reception decide which readings are valid, and which are not?

How should we understand – and interrogate – the space between an ancient text and its later receptions? Reception theory insists that receptions leave traces on ancient texts. But how do we understand and link up those traces?

Can classical reception engage in a dialogue with the ancient world? The dialogue – bypassing linear time – is one of reception’s central metaphors. But how do we know that on the other end of the dialogue we do not find ourselves?