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Gaze, Vision, and Visuality in Greek literature: Concepts, Contexts, and Reception

A three-day conference organized with the sponsorship of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities
Freiburg December 4–6, 2014

Please, find the program of the conference here.
Visuality was a key feature of ancient Greek culture. Performance and spectacle lay at the heart of all aspects of everyday life, such as courts and assemblies, cult and ritual, arts and culture. Literary genres often host acts of viewing or describe other visual experiences, engaging continually with sight-related language, while also exploring multiple interconnections between viewing, understanding and knowing. The recipients of ancient Greek literature (both oral and written) are thus encouraged to perceive the narrated scenes as spectacles and to ‘follow the gaze’ of the characters in the narrative. Seeing and visuality were also debated topics. Whilst being considered as the most secure means into knowledge (note the historians’ insistence on opsis and autopsia), seeing was often associated with mere appearance, false perception and deceptiveness (see, for instance, the ideas of Plato, but also, a contrario, the connection between oracular knowledge and darkness or blindness).
This conference aims at exploring the various forms of gaze, vision, and visuality in ancient Greek literature. By setting a broad time span, we seek to track down the evolution of the gaze culture in Greek literature, while also addressing broader topics, such as theories of vision, the prominence of visuality in specific time periods, or the position of visuality in a hierarchization of senses.
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