Classical Studies celebrates new book: Belonging and Isolation in the Hellenistic World

Monday, October 14, 2013

When professors Sheila Ager and Riemer Faber convened the first international conference under the Waterloo Institute for Hellenistic Studies in 2008, they may not have anticipated the outcome. But the conference called ‘Belonging and Isolation in the Hellenistic World’ has materialized five years later in a University of Toronto Press publication of the same name.

With a gala book launch and special visiting scholar’s public lecture planned for October 18, the Department of Classical Studies has much to shout about. “We don't often get to celebrate our research through such an event” says Professor Ager, “so we hope members of the University and Faculty of Arts will join us for a guaranteed good time.”

The book features 18 essays written by internationally recognized scholars, all of whom are research associates of the Institute. “It represents the wide range of scholarly expertise needed for a comprehensive examination of a complex subject such as changing social identities” says Professor Faber.

members of the Classicial Studies department and visiting scholarsMembers of the Department of Classical Studies and international visiting scholars at the Belonging & Isolation conference in 2008, most of whom contributed to the book.

At the conference (and now in the book) scholars from disciplines ranging from archaeology to literature to social history presented their research and ideas on an ancient version of what we now tend to think of as globalization. In particular, they explore the tensions that arose from heightened intercultural exchange: “The broadening of horizons in the Hellenistic period would have brought with it an identity crisis” Faber and Ager wrote in the original conference invitation, “and a sense of being adrift in a world which had undergone a radical structural change.”

While they acknowledge it is often a risky business to compare past with present, in the book’s introduction the editors report “… several contributors to this volume expressed the sentiment that similarities appear to exist between contemporary geopolitical movements and those of the Hellenistic era. It certainly does seem that traditional dynamics of belonging and isolation have reached an end, that the world is ‘opening up’ and that opportunities for new political and social alignments are emerging.”

Just preceding the book launch celebration, Professor Daniel Ogden, from the University of Exeter will present, “The Legend of Seleucus.” This lecture  will explore the web of myth and legend surrounding Seleucus, one of Alexander the Great’s followers and a king whose exploits in what is now known as the Middle East fired the imagination of his contemporaries and of posterity alike. All are welcome to attend both events.

More about the lecture: Oct. 18, 5:30pm, Balsillie School of International Affairs.

More about the book celebration (rsvp required): Oct. 18, 7pm, Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery.

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