East-West Relations Conference, October 10-11, 2013

East-west relations graphicThe Williams College Classics Department is pleased to present a conference on East-West Relations in the Ancient World from Cyrus I to the Abbasid Caliphate, October 10-11, 2013.

In recent years, there has been a major shift in how scholars characterize social, cultural and political interactions between Eastern and Western empires in the ancient world. For decades, scholars viewed East-West relations through a Saidian lens— all interactions were understood in binary terms with the western “Self” trying to impose itself on the eastern “Other”. This form of binary analysis is now giving way to a more dialogic approach that stresses not only struggle, conflict and miscommunication, but also fruitful, often bi-directional influence. The goal of the East-West Relations conference is to bring together scholars from a variety of different fields (e.g., Classics, History, Religion) to assess the future of our shared theoretical discourse.

A copy of the conference schedule is available below. The first day of the conference (Oct. 10) is free and open to the public; attendance on the second day (Oct. 11) is by invitation only. Students or faculty interested in attending papers on Oct. 11 should first contact Prof. Benjamin Rubin for permission ([email protected]).


Thursday, October 10th, Griffin Hall, Room 3


Opening Address:

10:30-11:30: Gideon Avni (The Israel Antiquities Authority and the Hebrew University), “Jerusalem and Palestine between West and East: The Byzantine – Islamic transition”

11:30-1:30: Lunch Break

Panel I:

1:30- 2:05: Margaret Cool Root (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor), “Persia and the Parthenon Revisited”

2:05-2:40: Benjamin Rubin (Williams College), “Keeping up with the Achaemenids: Ethno-Geographic Personifications in Classical Athenian Art”

2:40-3:15: Elizabeth McGowan (Williams College), “Maussolos’s Mnema: An iconographical approach to the architecture of the Maussolleion at Halikarnassos

3:15-3:50: Matthew Canepa (University of Minnesota, Twin Cities), “City, Palace, and Paradise: Contesting Iranian architecture, urbanism and royal identity among post-satrapal and Perso-Macedonian dynasties of Iranian western Asia”

3:50-4:00: Closing Remarks and Discussion


Friday, October 11th, the Oakley Center for the Humanities and Social Sciences


Panel II:

8:30-9:05: Jason Schlude (Duquesne University), “Image and Reality in Roman-Parthian Relations”

9:05-9:40: J. Andrew Overman (Macalester College), “Parthian Sympathies and Appetites in Roman Palestine”

9:40-10:15: Daniel Schowalter (Carthage College), “Building on the Border: The Early Shrine Complex at Omrit”

10:15-10:30: Coffee Break

Panel III:

10:30-11:05: Jim Laine (Macalester College) and Susanna Drake (Macalester College), “Gestures of Cosmopolitanism in Bardaisan and the Mahabharata”

11:05-11:40: Denise Buell (Williams College), “East, West and the Stars: Astrology in Early Christian Discourse”

11:40-12:15: Elizabeth Urban (Williams College), “Were non-Arab Muslims Secret Byzantine Sympathizers? Accusations and Resolutions in an Early Arabic Apocalypse”

12:15-3:00: Break

Plenary Address:

3:00 – 4:15: Tessa Rajak (University of Reading), “Where Empires Met: Jews on the Border in Dura-Europos”

4:15-4:30: Coffee Break

4:30-6:00: Concluding Conversation


***The conference on East-West Relations in Ancient World has been generously funded by contributions from Macalester College, the Williams College departments of Classics, History, Anthropology and Sociology, Religion, The Oakley Center for the Humanities and Social Sciences and the Williams College Lecture Committee.