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Upcoming conference: Ancient Explanation (April 17-18)

Click here for a PDF of the conference program.

The Stanford Classics Department is co-sponsoring the Ancient Explanation Conference to be held in the Stanford Humanities Center, 424 Santa Teresa Street on April 17 - 18, 2010. (Map here.)

Explanation is a default mode of today’s academic discourse, but can at different times be employed in a variety of different ways. This conference aims to explore the use of explanation in classical antiquity. What did the ancients explain? For what purposes were explanations made? And who could legitimately give them?

The diversity of speakers the conference seeks to convene is intended to reflect the diverse use of explanation throughout classical antiquity in poetry, philosophy, science, history, and religion. Promoting dialogue amongst classicists with differing specializations, it will examine which features of explanation remain constant in classical antiquity and which are contingent upon historical, generic, and cultural contexts. Possible topics include multiple explanations, the connection of explanation with causation and responsibility, the relation of explanation and literary interpretation, or the explanation of portents and dreams. Ultimately the conference seeks to draw attention to the distinct use of explanation in classical antiquity by comparison with the ways it is employed today.

Participants include Alexander Arweiler, Markus Asper, Emily Baragwanath, Christian Kaesser, James Ker, Jacob Mackey, Susan Mattern, Andrej Petrovic, Alessandro Schiesaro, Wilson Shearin, Peter Struck, and Jyri Vaahtera. Organized by Professor Christian Kaesser and the department's Mellon postdoctoral fellow, Wilson Shearin, the conference is co-sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in the Humanities, the Stanford Humanities Center, and the Office of the Senior Associate Dean for the Humanities. The Conference is free and open to the public.