Presentation on theme: "Approaches to ancient history 11: Reception and History of Scholarship."— Presentation transcript:
Approaches to ancient history 11: Reception and History of Scholarship
Reception Primarily a theory from literary criticism focusing on the way a text acquires meaning. Meaning not intrinsic in text (so no true meaning is possible) but is constructed in the process of reading (hence alternative name, reader-response criticism). Therefore meaning changes in relation to cultural contexts and in response to earlier readings – tradition of reception develops.
Implications for ancient history 1 Tradition of reception of key sources, e.g. Thucydides or Tacitus; read differently at different times. Clearly affects our own readings; influenced both by our own cultural context (effects of Iraq on reading the Melian dialogue?) and by earlier interpretations. Always aiming to get back to orginal meaning; is this possible?
Implications for ancient history 2 Subject largely based on tradition of reading and re-reading predecessors; agenda set by earlier generations. Inherited problems, e.g. racism underlying ideas of temporal and geographical scope of ancient history. Dangers of relying on old books – but also dangers of ignoring tradition altogether.
And further… Not just response to traditions within ancient history; wider context includes tradition of reception of antiquity at large. Popular portrayals: novels, films, art. Should historians play along or deliberately oppose? Tradition of using antiquity to critique modernity, set up as ideal model of art, politics, culture.