Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

  • Monday, October 23, 2017 - 5:15pm to 7:00pm

Class of 1978 Pavilion in the Kislak Center
6th Floor of Van-Pelt Library

We will be welcoming Joseph Farrell for a talk entitled: “Ancient and Modern Materialities.” Joe writes:

I would like to take this opportunity to reflect upon what characteristics modern textual materialities share and do not share with Greek and Roman antiquity. My plan is to offer a series of case studies, three based on recent or forthcoming work by fellow Classicists, and a fourth idea of my own. They focus, respectively, on the replacement of the book roll by the codex; on book burning; on the mise-en-page of authorial autographs or presentation copies; and on forms taken by the material text throughout its life-cycle. My hope is to generate some discussion about the relationship between antiquity and modernity, and also about ancient and modern studies.

The three papers I will be discussing are:

Benjamin Harnett, “The Diffusion of the Codex,” Classical Antiquity 36.2 (2017): 183–235 (forthcoming).

Joseph A. Howley, “Book-Burning and the Uses of Writing in Ancient Rome: Destructive Practice between Literature and Document,” Journal of Roman Studies 107 (2017): 1–24.

John K. Shafer, “Authorial Pagination in the Eclogues and Georgics,” TAPA 147.1 (2017): 135–78.

I will summarize these articles so there is no need to read them in advance, but if you would like to read Harnett’s forthcoming piece, please request a copy from Alex Ponsen at

I do recommend, however, that attendees read in advance the poems in Ovid, Amores 1.11-12. Both the Latin and an English translation can be found in the Loeb edition, which is available online from Van Pelt Library: search in Franklin for Loeb Classical Library, then search for Ovid, and Amores. You will find Amores 1.11-12 on pages 363-369 of the Loeb Edition.


Joseph Farrell is Professor of Classical Studies and Mark K. and Esther W. Watkins Professor in the Humanities at Penn. He writes:

I have taught Classics at Penn since 1984, focusing mainly on Latin poetry, but with frequent excursions into other areas, including textual materiality, career studies, landscape studies, and so forth, but always with an explicitly literary focus. At the moment I am mainly occupied with cutting a book on Vergil down to publishable size; with understanding how Latin poets used Greek scholarship on their Greek poetic models to influence the creation of commentaries on their own works; with several quite specific and quite general problems of Greek and Roman literary history; and with conventional definitions of antiquity and modernity, which I would like to live to see reformulated.