The 13th Biennial meeting of Shifting Frontiers in Late Antiquity: “Communal Responses to Local Disaster: Economic, Environmental, Political, Religious” March 14-17, 2019 at Clarmont-McKenna College, Claremont, CA.

The 13th Biennial meeting of Shifting Frontiers in Late Antiquity: “Communal Responses to Local Disaster: Economic, Environmental, Political, Religious” March 14-17, 2019 at Clarmont-McKenna College, Claremont, CA.

Source: The Society for Late Antiquity is pleased to announce the 13th biennial meeting of Shifting Frontiers in Late Antiquity, to be held at Claremont McKenna College, in Claremont, California. Specialists in art and archaeology, literature and philology, history and religious studies, working on topics from the 3rd to the 8th century CE, are invited to submit paper proposals. Scholars with any related interest are invited to attend.

The 2019 meeting will examine the impact of disasters on late-antique communities, including their susceptibility to disaster, the means by which they coped, and factors that increased resilience and facilitated recovery from disasters. In order to foster the thematic breadth and interdisciplinary perspective for which Shifting Frontiers is known, we invite papers concerned with the full range of traumatic events, and also long-term processes, that could distress communities: economic, environmental, political and religious. The aim of this conference is to move beyond the descriptive and stimulate analytical and theoretical approaches to understanding how distressed communities behaved in the short and long term.

Local communities developed daily and seasonal rhythms to mitigate vulnerabilities and fragility. The dread of disaster shaped the late-antique psyche and, in some ways, the cultural landscape of communities. And disasters of various kinds had a wide range of impacts, depending upon severity and the nature of communal resilience. We encourage papers to consider the extent to which the economic, cultural, political or religious resources of communities (or their lack) determined levels of susceptibility, impact, response or resilience. To what extent do late-antique sources acknowledge vulnerability and fragility? What mechanisms created durability and resilience? What were the emotional and intellectual responses to disaster? Does an awareness of the psychological impact of fragility and disaster alter our interpretation of various forms of evidence in Late Antiquity?

We are also pleased to announce that the keynote lectures will be given by Kyle Harper (University of Oklahoma) and Laura Nasrallah (Harvard University).

Potential topics include:

Economic trauma and its impact (fiscal, commercial, etc.)
Environmental distress and disaster relief (volcanos, earthquakes, tsunamis, etc.)
Attitudes toward the environment owing to fragility and the potential for disaster
Alimentary and agricultural disasters (famine, drought, interrupted shipping)
Urban disasters (fires, rioting, siege)
Military disasters on the battlefield
Philosophical and ethical notions of mortality, inevitability and causation connected to disaster
Rhetorical exploitation and literary responses to, or explorations of disaster
Philological footprints in language and idiom related to disaster
Representations of, and psychological responses to disaster in art
Archaeological and architectural evidence of disasters
Religious explanations of disaster and liturgical and cultic responses
Differentiation between sudden, cataclysmic and long-term, slow moving disasters
The memory of specific events

Proposals for 20-minute presentations should clearly explain the relationship of the paper to the conference theme, describe the evidence to be examined and offer tentative conclusions. Abstracts of no more than 500 words (not including optional bibliography) should be submitted by October 1, 2018. Please submit abstracts as a Word document attached to an email to both Shane Bjornlie ( and Michelle Berenfeld ( Please do not embed proposals in the text of the email. The conference steering committee will review all proposals, starting October 1, with accepted papers receiving notification by November 15. Due to budgetary constraints, bursaries for expenses will not be available, although conference registration fees will be waived for participants presenting papers and for the chairs of sessions. Registration for all other participants will be $100 US.

Conference Schedule:

Initial call for papers: March 1, 2018
Second call for papers: September 1, 2018
Abstracts due: October 1, 2018
Notification of participants: November 15, 2018
Program published on website with conference instructions and
open registration for participants not presenting papers: December 1, 2018
Conference convenes: March 14, 2019
Principal conference organizer:

Shane Bjornlie (Claremont McKenna College)
Conference steering committee:

Michelle Berenfeld (Pitzer College)
Cavan Concannon (University of Southern California)
Beth Digeser (UC Santa Barbara)
Nicola Denzey Lewis (Claremont Graduate University)
Michele Salzman (UC Riverside)
Edward Watts (UC San Diego)
Ken Wolf (Pomona College)
*Please consult this page in December for information on travel and lodging, local restaurants, the payment of registration fees and the complete conference program.

Seminar on Immanuel of Rome at the Shalom Spiegel Institute of Medieval Hebrew Poetry (JTS/NYC)

The Shalom Spiegel Institute Summer Seminar in Medieval Hebrew Poetry: Weeklong Seminar on Immanuel of Rome in New York City

The Shalom Spiegel Institute of Medieval Hebrew Poetry at the Jewish Theological Seminary, New York, is pleased to announce that it will hold a one-week intensive seminar in medieval Hebrew poetry dedicated to the work of Immanuel of Rome (c. 1265-1335) from June 25-29, 2018 at the Seminary. The week will include daily seminars with leading scholars on various aspects of Immanuel’s work (Hebrew and Italian poetry and prose, biblical exegesis) as well as opportunities for developing skills in the close reading of medieval Hebrew texts. The seminar will meet for morning and afternoon sessions Monday through Friday.

The program is intended to supplement academic programs that offer medieval Jewish studies or Hebrew literature but do not provide courses in which medieval Hebrew poetry and belles lettres are read in the original. It is also expected to benefit students and faculty who have had access to such courses, but whose academic work would benefit from more intensive training in this area. In addition to its pedagogic goals, the seminar is intended to advance the field of “Immanuel Studies.”

Raymond Scheindlin, Director Emeritus, Shalom Spiegel Institute, Jewish Theological Seminary Jonathan Decter, Brandeis University Dana Fishkin, Touro College

Featured Presenters: Tovi Bibring (Bar Ilan University), Dvora Bregman (Ben Gurion University), Yehuda Halper (Bar Ilan University), Isabelle Levy (Columbia University), Revital Rafael-Vivante (Bar ilan University), James Robinson (University of Chicago), Wout Van Bekkum (University of Groningen).

How to Apply:
To apply, write a letter of no more than two pages covering the following points:
1. Describe your academic program and interests, explaining how some study of medieval Hebrew poetry might relate to your work.
2. Describe your knowledge of Hebrew, particularly a. your ability to read academic prose; b. your familiarity with such classical texts as the Bible, Talmud, or medieval literature.
3. Provide the name and e-mail address of an academic mentor who is familiar with your program of study and your language skills and who can evaluate your academic performance. Recommendations will only be requested on an individual basis if deemed necessary.
Letters should be received by March 15, 2018 and should be addressed to Professor Dana Fishkin (
Applicants who are accepted to the program will be notified by March 25, 2018.
For further questions, please write Jonathan Decter ( or Dana Fishkin (

Daily Life in Ancient Athens: A View from the Agora: 2018 Brettman Memorial Lecture at Boston’s MFA on March 7

Daily Life in Ancient Athens: A View from the Agora
2018 Brettman Memorial Lecture by John Mck. Camp II
Free and open to the public (museum admission by voluntary contribution after 3 p.m.).

Wednesday, March 7, 2018, 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm.
Harry and Mildred Remis Auditorium (Auditorium 161)
Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA

Join John Mck. Camp II, director of the Agora Excavations, Athens; and Niarchos Foundation Professor of Classics, Randolph-Macon College for this year’s Estelle Shohet Brettman Memorial lecture. Entitled Daily Life in Ancient Athens: A View from the Agora, his talk explores recent excavations, inscriptions, and ancient sources that illustrate the varied daily activities in the Athenian agora, the center of the city.

Event notice:
This event is part of the annual lecture series at the MFA that the ICS permanently endowed in 2005. Admission is free, but space is limited in the auditorium. Please RSVP to:
617-369-3259 or here for tickets.

In November 1999, the International Catacomb Society announced their sponsorship of the Estelle Shohet Brettman Memorial Lecture Series at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in the Department of Art of the Ancient World. In 2005 the lecture series was permanently endowed. The series presents lectures and other programs dealing with the cultural, artistic, and religious history, and related archaeology of the ancient Mediterranean world, primarily the Roman Empire and its provinces during the period of the 5th century B.C.E. through the 7th century C.E. All Brettman Memorial Lectures are free and open to the public.