Subdisciplinary Monoculists: Seeing, They Do Not See...

By:
Dr Victor Castellani
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Two examples, from 19th-century studies and from classics, will show that some humanists still must try harder to look through the eyes of other disciplines, at visual arts and at written texts, but also to avoid anachronism, in "reading" our objects of study. 1. Scholars of playwright Henrik Ibsen, particularly Norse ones, have looked everywhere but to the obvious for models of the co-protagonists in his final play, English title When We Dead Awaken (1899). Art history readily recognizes Auguste Rodin in sculptor "Arnold Rubek", and, with telling contrasts, that French sculptor's discarded model and pupil Camille Claudel in "A lady traveler" named "Irene" who had been Rubek's model — a model as model for a model! Established Ibsenists, however, by and large resist these commonplaces of their colleagues, although they are potentially helpful, even indispensable for fully understanding Ibsen's "epilogue" play. 2. There the stubbornness lies on one side. In an important area of classical studies, on the other hand, two disciplines talk past one another, failing to notice how what philologists regard anachronistically as (mere) "symbols" in Homeric and Archaic poetry and what archaeological art historians classify as (mere) "conventions" in 6th- and 5th-century vase-painting ought to be conjoined in treatment and so to reveal a lively and potent belief in real, immanent Olympian gods. These were objects not of theology but of faith and piety, such as historians of ancient religion have begun to fathom, and such as the "superstitious" Christian Middle Ages would have understood better than modern antiquarian scholars do, with notions of deity informed by Plato or Paul, Kant or Kierkegaard, Feuerbach or Freud, reluctant to believe [sic!] that classical Greeks could be so "primitive" as they were. Note: Illustrations to Part 2 will include vases in the Fitzwilliam Museum.


Keywords: Ancient Greece, Archaeology, Ibsen, Iconography, Religion (ancient Greek), Rodin, Vase-painting
Stream: Literature, Literary Studies, Aesthetics, Design, Religion, Spirituality
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Dr Victor Castellani

Associate Professor of Classics/Humanities, Department of Languages and Literatures, Division of Arts and Humanities, University of Denver
USA

1968 BA Fordham University, majors Greek and Latin; thesis "Plato's Use of Humor in the Gorgias and Protagoras" 1971 PhD Princeton University, Classics; dissertation "House and Home in Euripides"; special authors Euripides and Terence; special field Roman law 1971- Instructor, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, Department of Languages and Literatures, University of Denver 1981-85 and 1989-98, Chair of Department; sometime Director of (undergraduate) Classical Studies and Comparative Literature. Author of many conference papers on classical, medieval and modern topics, chiefly in narrative literature and drama but also in philosophy and religion and in museology; publications on ancient epic, drama, and religion and on Dante and Ibsen; book reviews on ancient and modern subjects. Courses taught include Greek and Latin languages, ancient and contemporary drama, ancient and medieval epic, ancient and modern (Germany) history, wine. Member of American Philological Association, Archaeological Institute of America, and several regional associations. Frequent and extensive traveler abroad to museums of antiquities art and history, to monuments, and to libraries, numerous lectures at universities, very numerous visits to wineries. (Consultant on wine for OED2.)

Ref: H05P0383