CONF: The Material Reception of Antiquity (Leiden, 13 Dec 2018)

Rijksmuseum van Oudheden (National Museum of Antiquities), Leiden, Leemans Room, December 13, 2018

A joint conference of the National Museum of Antiquities, the Material Agency Forum and the Byvanck Chair for the History of Classical Art and Archaeology

It is commonly accepted that knowledge of ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome came to us largely through written sources. At the same time, it is generally acknowledged that the material remains of Egyptian, Greek and Roman cultures are so impressive that they cannot be ignored as important sources as well. We are obliged to pay attention to these material witnesses of ancient times. However, as script is transferred to the next generations by often formal learning processes, we find it still hard to understand how the impact of material remains is transferred over time.

Reception studies have been a core activity in the humanities since the Renaissance, where classics, egyptology, art history and archaeology meet. The humanist, antiquarian and philological strands have been renewed in the nineteenth century by the rise of archaeology and art history as academic disciplines. In the twentieth century Aby Warburg completely reformulated the question as one of the survival of antiquity and its underlying psychological mechanisms, and more recently reception studies received powerful impulses from German reception aesthetics and Anglo-Saxon more visually oriented reception studies within classics.

But it is now time to focus on the role of the objects themselves, and to turn from the textual and visual reception of Antiquity to its material reception. Can we develop a method that takes as its starting point the presence and agency of objects? How does materiality actually influence us? Is it foremost a psychological process? Or is it through our cultured ideas about matter? Or is it merely a question of style? How do these processes actually work?
In this conference, which is part of the celebrations for the 200th anniversary of the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities, but also marks the first lustrum of the Material Agency Forum, participants of the conference are invited to reflect on the material reception of antiquity by taking one object, or one class of objects, as a case-study, and to discuss the reception of an object over a longer period of time.


10.00 Arrival

10.10 Brief introduction by the organizers

10.15 – 11.00 Keynote: Peter Miller (Bard Graduate Centre New York)
The New History of Antiquarianism and What it Offers

11.00 – 11.40 Cecilia Griener-Hurley (Ecole du Louvre/Université de Neuchâtel)
Pale imitations and corrected copies

11.40 – 11.55 Coffee & Tea

11.55 – 12.35 Pascal Griener (Université de Neuchâtel)
A dream turned to stone. Michelangelo and the antique ‘Cupid’ purchased for the Victoria and Albert Museum (1861).

12.35 – 13.15 Isabelle Kalinowski (Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris)
Catapetasmata. Gottfried Semper and antique drapery.

13.15 -14.15 Lunch

14.15 – 14.55 Astrid van Oyen (Cornell University)
The transient reception of wattle and daub

14.55 – 15.35 Laura Van Broekhoven (Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford)
Legacies and futures at the Pitt Rivers Museum

15.35 – 15.50 Cofee & Tea

15.50 – 16.30 Jos Platenkamp (University of Münster)
“Damit es in guten Händen kommt“ On the interface between gifts and commodities

16.30 – 17.00 General discussion and concluding remarks by the organizers