Comparatism from a Disciplinary Perspective

The Case of Classics and Assyriology

with Johannes Haubold (Princeton University)

Date: Wednesday, April 21, 2021
Time: 2:00pm EDT

Classics has been the object of intense scrutiny, as a discipline, in recent months. Some critics object to the concentration of academic attention (and resources) on the study of two ancient civilizations to the exclusion of others. The issue becomes especially pointed when we consider texts from Mesopotamia, such as the Gilgamesh Epic and Enuma Elish, given their similarities with the poems of Homer and Hesiod. In this paper, I consider how, in the course of the 20th and early 21st centuries, comparison of Greek and Mesopotamian texts unsettled established canons of knowledge and disciplinary routines first within Classics and, more recently, within Assyriology as well. I then ask how we might harness the resources of the two disciplines in pursuit of more fruitful collaboration. 

Johannes Haubold teaches Classics at Princeton University. He is the author of Greece and Mesopotamia: Dialogues in Literature (CUP 2013) and together with John Steele and Kathryn Stevens has recently editedKeeping Watch in Babylon: The Astronomical Diaries in Context (Leiden 2019). He is currently working on an intellectual history of the Chaldeans ca. 400BCE – 200CE. 

This event is part of the Comparatism Seminar Series, organized by Lisa Raphals (University of California, Riverside and the Center for Hellenic Studies) and hosted by the Center for Hellenic Studies.