The organisers of this international project, involving academics from Oxford and Yale, share an interest in ancient exemplarity, by which we mean the use of examples in often overlapping rhetorical, literary, and moral senses. Our collaboration covers two axes: a comparative one, by examining pragmatically similar texts from different cultures which have not been closely studied together, viz. Hebrew wisdom texts and Greek and Latin prose and verse texts of broadly speaking didactic intent. We will be interested in the mechanisms by which the texts establish a baseline of what is valorised (behaviour, attitudes, conceptions of wisdom and knowledge) as well as in ways in which such baselines are then manipulated, ironised and subverted. But we also seek to explore the validity of exemplarity as a form much less of normative than of situational reading and acting, and to ask whether those premodern practices can help us view contemporary questions of the interaction between reading and being in new ways.
We will have research seminars taking place at Yale and Oxford simultaneously during Hilary Term (the Oxford seminar is already fully mapped out), followed by a two-day workshop in Oxford in week 9. The workshop focusses especially on graduate students who will present and respond to research papers. It will expose doctoral students from both institutions to 'other' academic cultures (both in terms of nationality and subject) and thus supplement existing opportunities for portfolio building.
We aim to produce one or two co-authored articles which will, aside from their historical interest, also encourage us to reflect on the usages of exemplarity in our own respective disciplinary and individual styles, and thus on current practices of the Humanities.
This project is funded by the TORCH International Partnership Scheme.
If you want to learn more about the organizers of the project, check out these websites: