U. E.: ... [D]o you know why the Presocratics only wrote fragments?
J.-C. C.: No.
U. E.: Because they lived in ruins.
Umberto Eco and Jean-Claude Carrière, This Is Not the End of the Book. Tr. P. McLean (London, 2011)
Umberto Eco’s joke – rather a hermetic one – aptly summarizes the nature of the ancient world as seen from the viewpoint of the 21st century. More than ever before, we are aware that the ancient world which classical scholars strive to reassemble is not a consistent whole. It is the world of fragments among ruins, and as such it is essentially broken, a fact highlighted by the very etymology of the word ‘fragment’ (< Lat. *frag- ‘break’). When seeking for a metaphor that would describe this fragmentary reality, the archaeologist might compare it to a vase shattered into dozens of pieces. The reader of ancient literature – who keeps in mind that the Greek word for fragment is apospasma, which derives from the verb apospaô,‘tear off’ – might think of Pentheus, torn apart by the Maenads. Yet regardless whether one’s concern is with gluing together the fragmenta of a broken artifact, or with tracing the apospasmata of ancient narratives or ideas, the task of the classicist always remains the same: it is the reconstruction of the shattered past.
We are inviting scholars from all areas of Classics to an emphatically interdisciplinary conference whose purpose is to encourage reflection on what is the essence of classical scholarship: Fragment, Non-Completeness, Lacuna, Absence, and the relationship of these phenomena to the Whole. The conference is intended to reflect the broad scope of the organizing institutions: the Committee on Ancient Culture of the Polish Academy of Sciences (whose areas of expertise include classical philology, ancient history, art history, archaeology, epigraphy, papyrology and ancient law), the Institute of Classical Studies and the Institute of Archaeology of the University of Warsaw, and the Institute of Classical Studies of Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań.
The registration fee for participants is 150 €; this includes meals and conference materials. Accommodation at special reduced rates will be available to the registered participants.
For registration and enquiries, please email Conference Secretary, Jan Kwapisz (email@example.com), or General Chair, Jerzy Danielewicz (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The conference will be held on 12-14 June 2014.
The 2-3 page summaries of the accepted papers will have to reach us by 30 April 2014.
The conference will be held at the University of Warsaw, in the vibrant centre of the capital of Poland. Utterly destroyed during World War II, Warsaw is a city that was rebuilt from fragments into a new shape and is currently experiencing a period of rapid modernization: as such it provides a particularly appropriate locus for this conference. The participants will be able to explore the fragments of pre-war Warsaw during a walking tour which will follow the conference.
The University can be easily reached from the airport, which is just 15 kilometres (9 miles) from the conference site. Further information will be given to the registered participants.
General Chair: Prof. Jerzy Danielewicz, University of Poznań
Secretary: Dr Jan Kwapisz, University of Warsaw (email@example.com)
Prof. Krystyna Bartol, University of Poznań (classical philology)
Prof. Tomasz Giaro, University of Warsaw (ancient law)
Prof. Włodzimierz Lengauer, University of Warsaw (ancient history)
Prof. Adam Łajtar, University of Warsaw (epigraphy and papyrology)
Prof. Karol Myśliwiec, Polish Academy of Sciences (archaeology)
Prof. Jakub Pigoń, University of Wrocław (classical philology)
Prof. Mikołaj Szymański, University of Warsaw (classical philology)
The papyrus in the conference logo is P. Berol. 11779, currently in the Department of Papyrology of the University of Warsaw. Photo by courtesy of the Department of Papyrology of the University of Warsaw.