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This seminar exists to further, in the New York area, the study of the literature, art, archaeology, and history of the ancient world. Seven meetings are held each year attended by twenty to sixty members drawn from universities and colleges within reach of New York. There is no set theme to the seminar for a given semester or year.

Professor Marcus Folch

Professor Joel Lidov

Lien Van Geel

All seminars will meet over Zoom for the 2020 fall semester. Meeting links provided upon RSVP. Meeting dates and times are subject to change. 

Meeting Schedule

10/15/2020 Online Meeting
7:30 PM
The Politics of Greece’s Theatrical Revolution, ca. 500-ca. 300 BC
Peter Wilson, University of Sydney (Australia)


Recent years have witnessed a shift away from the extreme Athenocentrism that has characterised the study of the Greek theatre for centuries. The received account always struggled with the contradiction of a Classical theatre exclusively in, by and for Athens that was instantly replaced by an equally static vision of a Hellenistic theatre that is ubiquitously Greek. The result has been that scholarship has remained largely oblivious to the regional, interurban and international festivals that competed with the Athenian festivals and ended up shaping them as much as Athens shaped theatre in Greece. Earlier this year, my colleague Eric Csapo and I published a volume that seeks to present and analyse the evidence for the spread of theatre from Athens, and for its independent appearance, in and beyond the Mediterranean over the course of the first two centuries of its existence: Theatre Beyond Athens: A Social and Economic History of the Theatre to 300 BC. Vol. 2, Cambridge University Press. In this seminar I build on the results of this research and ask what role, if any, politics played in this extraordinary expansion. Just how exclusively Athenian or democratic were the theatre and its genres? Drawing on the very full corpus of evidence we now have, it is possible to match the reception of theatre with constitutional regimes in Greece. This turns the question into one of reception: some insight can be gained from the choices communities made in the fifth and fourth century as the new medium spread throughout the Greek world. Some states eagerly adopted theatre while others avoided it. Communities that did receive theatre similarly chose to accept or to avoid specific theatre genres and practices.

11/19/2020 Online Meeting
7:30 PM
Title TBA
Grant Parker, Stanford University

01/21/2021 Location TBD
7:30 PM

Peter O’Connell, University of Georgia

02/18/2021 Location TBD
7:30 PM

Jennifer Stager, Johns Hopkins University

03/18/2021 Location TBD
7:30 PM

Amy Richlin, University of California, Los Angeles

04/15/2021 Location TBD
7:30 PM