School of Historical Studies

The Parthenon Sculptures: Decoding Images of Ancient Myths

Joan Breton Connelly
Professor of Classics at New York University
November 7, 2014
Joan Breton Connelly, Hetty Goldman Member (2010­–11) in the School of Historical Studies, explores how the Parthenon sculptures conveyed genealogical myths that answered for the Athenians the basic human question: Where do I come from? She shows how cosmic and epic narratives, and the great boundary catastrophes of war and deluge, established frameworks for understanding the distant past.

Climate, Conflict, and Historical Method

Nicola Di Cosmo
Luce Foundation Professor, School of Historical Studies
May 2, 2014
How can historians contribute to investigating the ­relationships between climate change, ecology, and human activity? Scientific research is making available ­volumes of data on the possible correlations between ­environmental change and social transformations over long periods of time. Yet, how strong and how precise a ­correlation one might be able to establish between ­phenomena like droughts, floods, and volcanic eruptions and the emergence of conflict, the migration of peoples, or the collapse of civilizations remain open questions.

S.T. Lee Lecture: Maiden Voyage: The Senzaimaru and the Creating of Modern Sino-Japanese Relations

Joshua A. Fogel
Professor, York University
March 31, 2014
In this lecture, Joshua A. Fogel, Professor at York University, discusses how in 1862, the Japanese government, seeing the writing on the wall of international relations and recognizing that it would be impossible to continue keeping itself from much greater foreign contacts, launched its first foreign mission. Fifty-one Japanese sailed aboard the newly purchased and renamed Senzaimaru to Shanghai where the entire panoply of Western powers could be viewed in microcosm.

S.T. Lee Lecture: After Syria: The Future of the Responsibility to Protect

Gareth Evans
Chancellor of the Australian National University and former Foreign Minister of Australia
March 12, 2014
In this lecture, Gareth Evans, Chancellor of the Australian National University and former Foreign Minister of Australia, posits whether it is possible to end, once and for all, genocide and other major crimes against humanity occurring behind sovereign state walls to ensure that there will never again be another Cambodia, Rwanda, Srebrenica, or Darfur. Evans also questions if the new principle of "the responsibility to protect" (R2P), which was unanimously embraced by the U.N.

Rethinking Barbarian Invasions through Genomic History

Patrick Geary
School of Historical Studies
November 13, 2013
Historians have debated for centuries the magnitude, nature, and impact of population movements from the borders of the Roman Empire into its heart between the fourth and seventh centuries. In recent years, geneticists have begun to attempt to provide clarity to these questions through the analysis of the biological data contained in the human genome.

When Truth Gets in the Way: Addressing Multiple Realities in Intrastate Conflicts

Michael van Walt van Praag
Visiting Professor, School of Historical Studies, Institute for Advanced Study
March 6, 2013

Most violent conflicts today are fought within states, and many are related to identity. They are, therefore, inextricably linked to how people perceive their ­history. How political leaders view and use history and historical narratives, often as the foundation for their claims, has a great impact on negotiations and can hold a peace process hostage.

In this lecture, Michael van Walt van Praag, Visiting Professor in the School of Historical Studies, offers a mediator’s perspective on ways to examine pertinent historical events and historiography in order to facilitate a change in the way negotiators relate to the other party’s history, as well as to their own. In so doing, he also considers the relation of modern international law and the nation-state concept to today’s conflicts.

(Ancient) History on Screen

Oliver Stone
Institute for Advanced Study
January 30, 2013

From the very beginnings of cinematography, themes from the ancient world and the Bible have provided directors and screenwriters with inspiration. The representation of ­antiquity in the movies, and more generally in pop culture, is now a ­stimulating field of research within classical studies. In the last decade, perhaps no film has attracted so much ­interest and debate among ­historians and classicists as Oliver Stone’s Alexander (2004). In this talk, Stone discusses his ­experience making this movie, its challenges, and, more ­generally, his approach to historical themes.

A panel discussion and a question-and-answer session follow the talk. The panel, chaired by Angelos Chaniotis, Professor of Ancient History and Classics in the School of Historical Studies, also includes two current Members, Nathanael Andrade, Assistant Professor of Ancient History at the University of Oregon, and Yannis Hamilakis, Professor of Archaeology at the University of Southampton, and the acclaimed director and film historian Gary Leva.

Up Close and Far Away: Artists, Memorialization, and Uganda’s Troubled Past

Sidney Kasfir
Professor Emerita, Emory University
December 10, 2012

In the past ten years, the term “heritage” in African art studies has gone from being a cliché used only by cultural bureaucrats to a burgeoning academic growth industry, brought into being by studies of collective memory or national trauma in relation to both historical and invented pasts. In this lecture, Sidney Kasfir, Professor Emerita at Emory University, asserts that one of the important ways heritage is given substance as an idea is through memorialization, both through public monuments and smaller-scale artworks. In Buganda, a long-embattled African kingdom, these works of art and architecture give substance to memories of greatness, on the one hand, and victimhood, suffering, and loss, on the other.

Recognition: Theme and Meta-Theme in Northern Renaissance Art

Mitchell Merback
Johns Hopkins University
October 23, 2012

Late medieval and Renaissance painters in northern Europe took pride in characterizing the forms of attention specific to the votive encounter. Amidst the hubbub of the Crucifixion, certain witnesses to the event are shown poised between acceptance and rejection of the dying man as the Christ of prophecy. These figures allowed beholders to measure their own response to Jesus’s paradoxical ­identity along a ­spectrum between seeing and blindness, between ­discipleship and reprobacy. Captured in the dawning of their comprehension, such characters ­embodied that ­passage from ignorance to knowledge that Aristotle, in The Poetics, called “recognition” (anagnôrisis). In this lecture, Mitchell Merback, Associate Professor of Art History at Johns Hopkins University, argues that to speak of a Christian poetics of disclosure in early modern art requires first understanding how recognition was ­elevated to a grand theme—and a galvanizing meta-theme—in the ­brilliantly naturalistic art produced north of the Alps.

This lecture is part of a series on art history cosponsored by the Institute for Advanced Study and the Department of Art and Archaeology at Princeton University.