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Eitner Lectures

The Lorenz Eitner Lectures on Classical Art and Culture publicize classics and classical scholarship to a wider public. The series has been endowed by Peter and Lindsay Joost, great friends and benefactors of Stanford Classics, in honor of the late Lorenz Eitner, director of Stanford’s art museum, now known as the Cantor Center, in the 1960s-80s. He also chaired what was then the Department of Art and Architecture and was a distinguished expert of French Romantic painting, and the author of a dozen books on art and art history. In naming these annual lectures after him, we honor the memory of a renowned scholar, teacher and writer who oversaw the expansion of our art museum to a leading regional art collection.

Dr. Brian Rose (Penn): Who Owns Antiquity? Museums, Repatriation, and Armed Conflict" - Friday, October 4, 2013 (video)

 The last ten years, in particular, have been dominated by discussions of cultural property--either its destruction in zones of military conflict or its involvement in litigation and claims for repatriation. The lecture reviewed recent developments in the art and antiquities market, the shifting acquisition policies in museums, and cultural heritage training programs for U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.  

Peter Meineck: "The Embodied Theatre: Cognitive Science and Ancient Greek Drama" - Thursday, November 8, 2012 (video)

In this illustrated talk incorporating live demonstrations, Peter Meineck will suggest a new method for approaching ancient drama using research drawn from the cognitive sciences. Can neuroscientific studies and modern cognitive theories be applied to the ancient Athenian brain? Can recent advances from the affective sciences offer us an array of new tools for better understanding the experience of ancient performance?

Mary Beard: "Mistaken Identities: How to Identify a Roman Emperor"—September 29, 2011 (full video)

What did the Roman emperor look like? Among the thousands of surviving Roman imperial marble heads, how do we put a name to a face, or a face to a name? This lecture will take a critical look at this process: it will not only question some of our modern certainties about who is who, but it will ask what we can learn from our mistakes.

John Ma: "Polis: The Greek City-State 800 BC-AD 600"—April 14, 2011 (full video)

Polis: the Greek city-state, as a particular form of social and political organization, lasted around twelve centuries, throughout the whole of the ancient "classical" world. The polis is a salient feature, in one way or another, of every period of ancient history, from the Dark Ages (1000-800 BC) to "late late Antiquity" (AD 450-600). Is there a single, continuous history of the ancient city-state across this timespan?

Joy Connolly: "Cicero at the Tea Party: Conflict in Republican Politics, Then and Now"—May 5, 2010 (link to full video)

How does the emphasis on consensus and civic friendship in contemporary political thought relate to a nation drawn to the politics of division? Recent years have seen among political theorists a major revival of interest in the republican tradition, especially the Roman ideas of liberty, consensus, and civility. This lecture argues that the Romans' contribution to our politics should be seen not in their abstract concepts but in their adversarial practices of civic speech—which make a compelling model for liberal education today. 

Sir Geoffrey Lloyd: "The Importance of Understanding the Past: Greece, China, Mesopotamia" —November 18, 2009 (link to full video)

Sir Geoffrey Lloyd reviews recent developments in the study of science, medicine and religion in Ancient Greece, China and Mesopotamia. Focusing on the social and intellectual institutions that favored or inhibited innovation, the lecture will suggest that understanding the past is an exercise in understanding others, and that nothing could be more vital in the world we live in today.

Anthony Grafton: "Encountering Antiquity in Renaissance Europe: Greeks, Jews, and Humanists" (April 2, 2009)

Traditional accounts of the Renaissance highlight scholars' dramatic, direct contact with Greek and Roman texts. But another, equally substantial side of the story has only begun to be explored: the way in which human intermediaries, above all Greeks and Jews, shaped many Renaissance thinkers' vision of the ancient world in previously unexplored ways.

View full video via iTunes U. (scroll through content for "Encountering Antiquity")

Jonathan Shay: "Homer on Military Leadership" - January 31, 2008

Jonathan Shay's clinical experience with American combat veterans has led to new insights into the Iliad and Odyssey in his books Achilles in Vietnam (1994) and Odysseus in America (2002), while the Homeric epics have in turn illuminated his understanding of modern warriors. Dr. Shay is an author, a Classicist, and Staff Psychiatrist at the Department of Veteran Affairs Outpatient Clinic in Boston, Massachusetts.

Sir John Boardman: "The Nude, Heroic and Otherwise" - April 26, 2006

This was the inaugural lecture for the Lorenz Eitner Lectures on Classical Art and Culture in the Classics Department at Stanford University. Sir John Boardman is a leading world expert on Greek art and is the Lincoln Professor of Classical Archaeology and Art (emeritus) at Oxford University. He is the author of more than thirty books on Greek cultural contacts, Greek vase-painting, and the diffusion of Classical art outside Greece in antiquity and later eras. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and was made a night of the British Empire in 1989.