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Bookish Circles: Teaching and learning in the ancient Mediterranean

A series of collaborative colloquia and seminars at the Heythrop Centre for Textual Studies

​Prompted by insights from the social sciences and furnished with twentieth-century manuscript discoveries, recent analysts have achieved considerable refinement in the study of literacy in the ancient Mediterranean. A set of related questions has come to the fore. What kinds of literacy can be discerned? What purposes did they serve in various ancient contexts? And in what kinds of social circle were certain sorts of literacy at home? Posing such questions has allowed discussion to transcend previous deterministic conceptions where orality and literacy were viewed as evolutionary stages in a linear process; where attention focused principally on what percentage of people were literate; and where this literacy was a largely undifferentiated category.

In this project we pursue the task of distinguishing varieties of ancient literacy, the social functions they served and the circles in which they did so. Bringing classicists together with analysts of the ancient Jewish and early Christian materials can only improve our hopes for historical insight. The discussion will continue to illuminate areas of ancient Jewish and early Christian studies where a canonical perspective still hampers social historical enquiry in some quarters. To this end, we explore ancient varieties of adult teaching and learning with a view to casting further light on kinds and functions of literacy in the ancient Mediterranean.

Bookish Circles Part I

(Took place at Heythrop College, University of London on 29th-30th July 2016.)

Bookish Circles Part II

(Takes place Heythrop College on 25th-26th November 2016)

Bookish Circles Part III

(Comprises individual seminars held at Heythrop College between December 2016 – June 2017.)