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CRASIS Annual Meeting & Master Class

The CRASIS Annual Meeting & Master Class is a two-day event, set up as an informal meeting place for students at PhD or Research Master level, postdocs and senior staff to promote the discussion and exchange of ideas beyond disciplinary boundaries. A keynote speaker is invited to give a master class for (Research)MA and PhD students on the first day of the meeting, and to hold the CRASIS Keynote Lecture at the conference for advanced researchers on the second day.

Call for papers

CRASIS, the interdisciplinary research institute for the study of the ancient world at the University of Groningen and the Protestant Theological University, is organizing its ninth Annual Meeting and Master Class. CRASIS brings together researchers from Classics, Theology and Religious Studies, Ancient History, Archaeology, Ancient Philosophy, and Legal History, focusing on Greek, Roman, Jewish and Near Eastern civilizations and their mutual interaction. The CRASIS Annual Meeting and Master Class is a two-day event, set up as a meeting place for students at the PhD or Research Master level, Post-Docs, and faculty to promote discussion and exchange ideas beyond disciplinary boundaries. PhD and Research Master students can earn 2 ECTS by active participation during the Master Class (writing an academic paper on one of the proposed topics). We cordially invite PhD-students, Research Master Students, Post-Doctoral Researchers, and other academic staff to submit a proposal for the CRASIS Annual Meeting and Master Class (13-14 February 2020), whose theme will be:

LIGHTS ON! Ancient light and lighting: perceptions, practices and beliefs.

In the western world, there is no prominent discourse on light and lighting. The ubiquitous presence of nighttime light is often taken for granted, and with it the claim of human control over the inhabited world. Streets and workspaces are often evenly lit, and since the adoption of LED technology, the number of artificially lit outdoor spaces has risen. Night is becoming brighter and brighter. However, there is little debate on the social effects of LED’s nightly brightness or its blue color, or on the environmental effects of light pollution or electricity smog.

The recent growth in interest in the history of the senses has raised questions surrounding ancient perceptions of light. The German cultural historian Gernot Böhme and his treatment of light and lighting as a central ‘element’ of man-made atmospheres, has paved the way for a new cultural history of light. Social interactions, religious beliefs, and aesthetic practices are all connected to light—in short: light shapes the way a society becomes visible to itself.

This year’s CRASIS meeting aims to establish new avenues in the understanding of ancient light. Ancient sources, both textual and material, speak of light in very different ways—as a phenomenon, as a social medium, or as a religious or cultural metaphor. Questions to be raised are manifold. Is it possible, based on the written sources and the archaeological material, to write an ancient history of light? To what extent did lighting practices convey religious or cosmic meaning? What is the relation between poetic, scientific and dualistic concepts of light? What theoretical models help us deal with the diversified or even divergent perspectives on ancient light? Does it make sense to look for a unifying concept of light in ancient societies? Is it possible to investigate ancient light without a valid method of light simulation?

We welcome papers exploring these questions with written, material, visual. Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Social light: light as medium of social interaction (feasting, ritual); the illumination of public spaces; lamps as emblems of surveillance/vigilance; light and lamps in anecdotal historiography.
  • Poetic light: luminous spaces and things in poetry; enargeia/inlustratio in the rhetorical tradition; light and the poetics of emotion.
  • Light and concepts of otherness: lamps and lighting as part of religious practices; light and divine epiphany, philosophy of light, dualisms of light and darkness in ancient thought, light and absence of light in death.
  • Aesthetic light: lamps and their decoration.
  • Scientific light: light in the optical treatises; integrated and disintegrated concepts of light and vision.
  • Virtual light: Light simulation in the 21st century - modern technologies and ancient contexts.

Keynote Speaker and Master

This year’s Keynote Speaker and Master is Ruth Bielfeldt, professor of classical archaeology at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat Munich. Her areas of expertise cover Greek and Roman visual narratives, the relationship between visual arts and written text, and concepts of spectatorship. She is the author of Orestes auf römischen Sarkophagen (Berlin: Reimer, 2005). Her most recent interests lie in the field of object studies. A single-edited volume Ding und Mensch in der Antike: Gegenwart—Vergegenwärtigung (Heidelberg: Winter, 2014) explores phenomenological approaches to ancient material culture and discusses notions of vitality in objects. In 2016 she launched “New Light from Pompeii”, a multidisciplinary project on the largely unpublished corpus of lighting devices in bronze from the Naples region that studies the materiality, optics, ambience and performativity of Roman artificial lighting.

Deadline for Abstracts

PhD and Research Master Students are invited to submit a topic proposal (500 words) for the Master Class (February 13th) explaining how their own research relates to the theme. We invite Post-Docs and other faculty members to submit a title and short abstract (250 words) for a lecture on the second day (February 14th). Proposals should be submitted no later than December 18th via crasis.aws@rug.nl. When possible, CRASIS will contribute to travel and accommodation costs.

Information for PhD/ReMa Students

Research Master students are expected to submit a paper of 3000-4000 words and PhD students a paper of 5000-6000 words. These papers will circulate among the participants and are to be submitted before 14 January 2020. During the Master Class participants will present their paper, followed by a response and discussion under the expert guidance of Professor Bielfeldt. The Master Class is an OIKOS and ARCHON activity and students will earn 2 ECTS by active participation. For more information, send an e-mail to crasis.aws rug.nl or see the website.

Past Meetings

2019: Identity: Past & Present. Keynote & Master: Dr. Louise Revell

2018: Motivation & Causality. Keynote & Master: Prof. Dr. John Ma

2017: Ancient Health. Concepts, Materiality, and the Experience of Life. Keynote & Master: Prof. Dr. Ralph Rosen

2016: Hellenism: Interaction, Translation and Culture Transfer. Keynote & Master: Prof. Dr. Benjamin Wright (A short report)

2015: Crisis! The Identification, Analysis, and Commemoration of Crises in the Ancient World. Keynote & Master: Prof. Dr. Monika Truemper (A short report)

2014: Cultural Knowledge in the Ancient World: Production, Circulation and Validation. Keynote & Master: Prof.Dr. Marietta Horster (A short report)

2013: Cultural Encounters in the Ancient Mediterranean. Keynote & Master: Prof.Dr. Martin D. Goodman

2012: Cultures of Networks in the Ancient Mediterranean. Keynote & Master: Prof.Dr. Greg Woolf


Some of the working papers of past meetings can be accessed on the CRASIS working papers page .

Last modified:12 December 2019 2.43 p.m.