‘A Quest for Remembrance’ : The Descent into the Classical Underworld, Warwick

‘A Quest for Remembrance’ : The Descent into the Classical Underworld

A One-day Interdisciplinary Conference at the University of Warwick, Saturday 20th May 2017

Keynote speaker: Professor Edith Hall, King’s College London

“μνήσασθαι ἐμεῖο” [remember me]
Odyssey 11.71

, the descent into the underworld, is an often literary genre whose earliest examples go back to classical antiquity, including the epics of Mesopotamia, ancient Greece and Rome. Since Rachel Falconer’s influential Hell in Contemporary Literature (2007), examining katabatic themes has become a popular strand of research. However, particularly in the 20th century, the descent to the underworld has been engaged with in a number of different art forms, such as the epic of Derek Walcott, the poetry of Eavan Boland, and the paintings of Romare Bearden. This conference aims to provide an interdisciplinary perspective on the potential uses of katabasis and its relationship to memory, encapsulating methodological approaches from departments as varied as Literature, Philosophy, History, Classics, and History of Art. Within recent years, more and more scholars have recognised the importance of memory for analysing the structures and themes in both ancient descent narratives and their adaptations. During the conference, the discussions will thus revolve around the various roles of memory in ancient katabatic tales and answer the question of how and why these roles are adapted in later re-tellings of those narratives. Therein, a pivotal aim is to re-evaluate Rachel Falconer’s claim that the descent narrative is an inherently ‘memorious’ genre. I am happy to say that Prof. Falconer herself will be in attendence at the conference.

As a further outcome of the conference, I will submit a book proposal for an edited volume on katabasis with articles that provide an interdisciplinary perspective on the overlapping concerns of classical reception and memory studies in the reception of ancient tropes. This publication will be one of the first to recognise this overlap in methodological concerns and to initiate a discussion from a variety of departments on the potential of considering classical themes and tropes for the analysis of memory, as well as the potential of memory studies for the analysis of classical reception.

Submission for this conference is now closed. Do feel free to register, however, and join in on the conversation. Registration for the conference closes on the 15th April 2017.

You can find the conference programme here.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email catabasis.warwick2017@gmail.com

This conference is organised by Madeleine Scherer (Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies) and funded by the Humanities Research Centre, the RSSP, and the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies.