Sonntag, 25. Juni 2017

A Report of the First International Conference on Historical Medical Discourse, Milan

A weblog entry by Shahrzad Irannejad.

From June 14th to the 16th, the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at the University of Milan hosted the First International Conference on Historical Medical Discourse (CHIMED-1). The general interest of the conference concerned medical discourse in historical perspective across disciplinary fields and research areas, such as: historical linguistics; historical lexicology and lexicography; medicine in/and literature; history of science, medicine and medical thought; history and social function of medical institutions; popularization of medical thought; translation of medical texts; medicine and cultural attitudes; and medicine and society. I used this opportunity to share with experts how I am integrating Translation Theory and Historical Semantics in my PhD project and receive feedback. As there were parallel presentations and some presentations were in Italian (which I, unfortunately, do not speak), this report is by no means a comprehensive report of the entire event; rather, a report of the presentations I personally found relevant to my work.

Figure 1: Giuliana Garzone and Paola Catenaccio presenting their paper in a panel chaired by Dr. Elisabetta Lonati in the Napoleonica hall of the University of Milan (Photo by Shahrzad Irannejad).

On the first day, Giuliana Garzone and Paola Catenaccio (Milan) talked about "Disseminating medical knowledge in the 19th century: discourse analytical perspectives" (Fig. 1). They discussed the frequency of occurrence, collocation and concordances of their selected terms "knowledge", "experience", "theory", and "evidence" in their corpus, which was based on three major medical texts in the 19th century. They also discussed the structures of the three texts and stressed the importance of analyzing the introductions of the texts. Eleonora Ravizza (Bergamo) discussed "Colonialism and cultural hybridity at the intersection of medical and literary discourse". The underlying theme of her presentation was the notion that our experience of our physical body is mediated through language and is thus socially and culturally charged. She also discussed the relationship between disease and foreignness and drew on Susan Sontag’s Illness as Metaphor. The first day ended in a very interesting social event, in which we visited the archives of the Ca' Granda Hospital which housed many medical documents and objects going as far back as the 11th century (Fig. 2 and 3).


Figure 2 and 3: Visit to the archives of the Ca' Granda Hospital (Photos by Shahrzad Irannejad).

In day two of the conference, Lucia Berti (Milan) presented her paper entitled "Italy and the Royal Society: medical papers in the early Philosophical Transactions" based on her current PhD project. After introducing the Philosophical Transactions as important sources for the study of Anglo-Italian relations in the 17th century and after some theoretical background regarding her approaches to text analysis, she analyzed 23 medical papers written between 1665-1706, and discussed their language, genre, subject area, structure, and linguistic features. Elisabetta Lonati (Milan) talked about "Diffusing medical knowledge among the people: the socio-cultural function of medical writing". She examined the introduction of her primary sources and went on to discuss the attitude in the sources towards the relationship between intelligibility of medical texts and their utility. Tatiana Canziani and Marianna Lya Zummo (Palermo) presented their paper entitled "Prefaces in medical dictionaries: from moves to rhetorical Analysis". They dissected eleven medical dictionaries published 1809-1900 and discussed the rhetorical structure of their prefaces and introductions. Based on the audiences presumed for these dictionaries, they discussed the socio-cultural practices and assumptions embedded in these texts.
Massimo Sturiale (Catania) talked about "Pronouncing medical terms: norm and usage in pronouncing dictionaries". Focusing on four main pronouncing dictionaries from the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, he discussed and compared various examples of stress placement, spelling and pronunciations presented in these dictionaries. Alessandra Vicentini (Insubria) presented "A brief history of 19th-century English medical lexicography: authors, editors and texts". After giving some background about the scientific context of these dictionaries, in which she discussed the dramatic increase in specialized terminology which necessitated the publishing of dictionaries, she analyzed the needs, motivations and actors involved in compilation of five major dictionaries compiled in the 19th century.

In an attempt to implement one of the suggestions raised in our previous workshop on delivering public speeches in English at our RTG, I began my presentation with a story; especially because I was the last presenter in a long conference day: I had found mention of the theory of Inner Senses and Ventricular Localization in one of the stories of One Thousand and One Nights, recounted by Shahrazad the legendary storyteller. I think you can imagine my excitement as I came across this story. I received good feedback after my presentation (Fig. 4); members of the audience saying how the story helped them find relevance to my presentation and my research. I took as my departure point an 18th century Persian medical encyclopedia which mentions the theory of the Inner Senses. I then went back in time and showed how the expansion and development in the Aristotelian concepts of phantasia and koine aisthesis yielded the five inner senses described in this text. Using Historical Semantics and Translation Theory, I tried to show how transliteration, calque and translation of Greek terms yielded the Arabic, and later Persian, terminology that explained sensation, cognition and its impairment in the pre-modern Persianate world.

Figure 4:  The last speaker of the day trying to allure the audience with a story by Shahrazad; I promise my gesture in this scene was not pre-contemplated (Photo by Lucia Berti).

On the third day, Silvia Demo (Padova) talked about reception of Galen in Nicholas Culpeper's work in her talk "What medicine is. Galens Art of Physick". She presented and analyzed Culpeper’s translation of Galen's famous book. She drew attention to the fact that Culpeper inserts his own comments in the translation, and that he adjusts some recipes based on the ingredients available to his English reader. In a quite engaging presentation, Paul-Arthur Tortosa (Florence) talked about "Tables and Content: the writing practices of French military doctors between case-study and arithmetic medicine, 1792-1800". He introduced two major texts that explicitly discussed the emergence of the medical discourse, namely, Michel Foucault's The Birth of the Clinic (1963) and Erwin Heinz Ackerknecht's Medicine at the Paris Hospital, 1794-1848 (1967). His talk circled around the notion that medical lists and tables emerging in the 18th century made medicine look more "rational". He discussed how massification of warfare in this century caused reconfiguration of medical writing practices.

In the end, organizers of the conference Prof. Giovanni Iamartino and Dr. Elisabetta Lonati concluded the event by thanking all those involved in organizing the event, especially Lucia Berti, PhD candidate at the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature. They concluded by saying that they hope that the Conference on Historical Medical Discourse would continue to be held in the future. There is a prospect of this happening biannually, in Helsinki and Canary Islands in the near future. I, too, hope this future would soon be realized. 


Dienstag, 6. Juni 2017

Craven Seminar zum Thema "Eschatology and Apocalpyse in Graeco-Roman Literature" vom 1. bis 3. Juni 2017 an der University of Cambridge

Ein Beitrag von Dominic Bärsch.

Bei bestem englischem Wetter fand vom 01. bis 03.06.2017 an der University of Cambridge das Craven Seminar zum Thema "Eschatology and Apocalpyse in Graeco-Roman Literature" statt. Während dieser Konferenz setzten sich ausgewiesene Experten auf dem Gebiet der griechisch-römischen Kosmologie, Philosophie und Theologie mit der zentralen Frage auseinander, ob und welche Art von Apokalyptik – besonders in Bezug auf die Vorstellung eines oder mehrerer Weltuntergänge – in der griechischen und lateinischen Literatur der Antike nachzuweisen sind. Die Diskussion fokussierte sich dabei besonders auf die folgenden Schwerpunktfragen: Warum sprechen Texte von einem "gemeinsamen Schicksal von Menschen und Welt"? In welchen literarischen und historischen Kontexten werden diese Themen aufgeworfen? Wer sind die Figuren oder Personen, die Anteil an einem "apokalyptischen Diskurs" nehmen?

Nach einer herzlichen Begrüßung der Veranstalter begann das erste Panel mit dem Überthema "Political Eschatologies". Dieses wurde von Richard Seaford (Exeter) eröffnet, der während seines Vortrags "Eschatology and the polis: the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, Aeschylus, and Aristophanes" konstatierte, dass die frühe griechische Kultur keine "mythology of the end of days" formuliert hat. Als Begründung dafür führte er besonders an, dass die Wiederholung bestimmter ritueller Handlungen wohl zu einem zyklischen Bewusstsein von Weltzeit geführt habe und Krisensituationen stets in der Überwindung dieser Krise geführt wurden, anstatt ein Ende zu imaginieren. Im darauffolgenden Vortrag "Sibylline Apocalypse" setzte sich Helen Van Noorden (Cambridge) mit der Gattung der Sibyllinischen Orakel auseinander und präsentierte die in Katastrophennarrativen transportierten Anspielungen auf historische Umstände. In Ergänzung zu ihr präsentierte Stephen Oakley (Cambridge) in seinem Vortrag "The Tiburtine Sibyl" ein Beispiel der Rezeption einer antiken Sibylle, die als pagane Prophetin auch über die Antike hinaus als autoritativer Argumentationspunkt genutzt wurde.
Im anschließenden, kleinen Panel "Junior scholars' presentations" erhielt Dominic Bärsch neben Jonathan Griffiths (Heidelberg) die Möglichkeit, einige Aspekte seiner Dissertation zu präsentieren und Rückmeldungen zu erhalten. Zunächst erläuterte Jonathan Griffiths in seinem Vortrag "kosmos agêrôs kai anosos: The Indestructibility of the World in Plato's Timaeus" seine Erkenntnisse zur Kosmologie im platonischen Timaios, wobei er sich vor allem auf die kosmogonischen Passagen und deren Auswirkungen für die platonische Philosophie konzentrierte. Geradezu entgegengesetzt in Sprache und Zeit fokussierte Dominic Bärsch in seinem Vortrag "To Pray or not to Pray for the End – Tertullian’s Statements about the End of the World" den christlichen, lateinischen Apologeten Tertullian, der sich in seinen Werken mit Blick auf den Rezipientenkreis entweder dafür ausspricht, für einen Aufschub des Weltuntergangs oder für ein baldiges Eintreten dieser komischen Katastrophe zu beten. Die folgende Diskussion – wie die Tagung generell – brachte wertvolle Anregungen, nicht nur zu diesem, sondern zu den verschiedensten Teilen seiner Forschung.
Das zweite Großpanel der Konferenz mit dem Titel "Roman prophets and world history" bestritt zunächst Katharina Volk (New York) und setzte sich in ihrem Vortrag "Not the End of the World? Omens and Prophecies at the Fall of the Roman Republic" mit der spätrepublikanischen Literatur und der Interpretation verschiedener Omina und deren Bezug auf den römischen Bürgerkrieg auseinander. Passend dazu folgte ihr Alessandro Schiesaro (Manchester), dessen Vortrag "Virgil’s underworld between Lucretius and Freud" vor allem die Passagen zum Weltuntergang in Lukrezens De rerum natura thematisierten, die ein Herzstück der römisch-apokalyptischen Literatur darstellen. Mit einem Schritt hin zur augusteischen Literatur rundete schließlich Elena Giusti (Cambridge) mit ihrem Vortrag "The End is the Beginning is the End: Apocalyptic Beginnings in Augustan Poetry" ab. Die augusteischen Dichter, in ihrem Bestreben das imperium sine fine der augusteischen Ideologie literarisch abzubilden, imaginierten den Weltuntergang als eine Katastrophe, die in Form des Bürgerkrieges bereits eingetreten sei und aus der sich wiederum das neue "goldene Zeitalter" erhebe, in dem sie nun selbst lebten.
Am Freitagnachmittag wurden dann im Panel "Revelations of individual and universal destiny" besonders Fragen zu antiken Vorstellungen von Individualeschatologien aufgeworfen. Zu diesem Themenkomplex präsentierte zunächst Christoph Riedweg (Zürich) in seinem Vortrag "Pythagorean ideas about the afterlife" Aspekte der pythagoreischen Seelenlehre, die nach wie vor schwer zu rekonstruieren ist. Ergänzend dazu beschäftigte sich Alex Long (St. Andrews) in seinem Vortrag "Platonic myths, the soul and its intra-cosmic future" mit der platonischen Seelenlehre, wobei in der Diskussion der beiden Vorträge spannende Erkenntnisse zu Überlappungen und Differenzen der Konzepte konstatiert wurden. In die lateinische Literatur führten dagegen wieder die Vorträge von Francesca Romana Berno (Rom) "Apocalypse is everyday. Lucretius, Nero, and the End of the World in Seneca" sowie von Katharine Earnshaw (Exeter) "Lucanian eschatology: from bones to the stars", die den Blick auf die neronische Literatur richteten. Sowohl Seneca als auch Lucan präsentieren gewaltige Imaginationen des Weltendes, die jeweils eine besondere Funktion im Kontext ihrer Werke erfüllen.
Der die Konferenz abschließende Samstag war schließlich auf das Thema "Influence on Christian thought" ausgerichtet, wobei sich lediglich Catherine Pickstock (Cambridge) mit ihrem Vortrag "Christian apocalypse as a version of Platonic philosophy" diesem komplexen Bereich widmete. In der anschließenden Diskussion wurden jedoch spannende Fragen zum Thema der Rezeption und Adaptation paganer Konzepte angeschnitten. Den letzten Vortrag der Konferenz mit dem Titel "Last Laughs" bestritt schließlich Rebecca Lämmle, die sich mit den Totengesprächen Lucians und dessen Rezeption früherer Unterweltsnarrative auseinandersetzte, wobei im Anschluss ausgiebig darüber diskutiert wurde, inwieweit die fiktiven Dialoge zwischen den Toten eine pessimistische Anschauung zu Leben und Tod transportierten.

Die abrundende Abschlussdiskussion rief noch einmal die eingangs diskutierten Fragen auf, wobei schnell klar wurde, dass in bestimmten Teilen der antiken Literatur eindeutig ein "apokalyptischer Diskurs" zu erkennen ist, der besonders in Zeiten von Krisen und Katastrophen aufgerufen wird. Kontextuell ist dieser stets eingebettet und wird nie abstrahiert dargestellt, etwa in einer reinen Theorie des Weltuntergangs.

An dieser Stelle sei einerseits besonders den Veranstaltern des Craven Seminars Helen Van Noorden und Richard Hunter gedankt, die es mir ermöglichten, an dieser gewinnbringenden und anspruchsvollen Tagung teilzunehmen. Andererseits sei auch dem Graduiertenkolleg 1876 gedankt, das die finanzielle Unterstützung bereitgestellt hat, um diese Teilnahme zu ermöglichen.

Montag, 5. Juni 2017

Endangered coastscapes in Cyprus

A Weblog entry by Mari Yamasaki.
Cloudy, a light drizzle, and un-seasonally cold. I don't remember ever having to wear long sleeves in Cyprus in May ... and at noon no less! These were my thoughts as I waited for the project director, Prof. Oliva Menozzi, to pick me up at the bus stop on the day of my arrival on May 22nd. She arrived shortly after, we exchanged the customary Italian hugs and kisses and drove to meet the rest of the team at the "dig house" in Germasogeia. I looked around the place and almost failed to recognize what should have been a familiar neighbourhood. Professor Menozzi turned to me, easily guessing my thoughts: in less than one year they built at new nondescript cottage and around us I could see two construction sites for bigger, duller, holiday-apartment buildings (Fig. 1). Not too long ago, this area used to be a village of a few sparse houses near the city, now it is impossible to tell it apart from the sprawling outskirts of Limassol. Sadly, Germasogeia is not an isolated example. Urbanization and reckless development are a problem almost everywhere along the Cypriot coasts. Within the MPM Survey Project (Moni Pyrgos Pentakomo Monagroulli Survey Project, University of Chieti), the preservation of cultural heritage has always been a high priority on the agenda, and fieldwork was always carried out with an eye out for evidences of looting and suspicious activities by developers, which were always reported to the officer of the Department of Antiquities in Limassol.

Figure 1: Satellite photograph of the area surrounding the dig house in 2016 and in 2017 (Photo ©GoogleEarth).

I have been coming to Cyprus for some years now, cooperating with several projects with different objectives. Among these, MPM holds a special place in my heart for a number of reasons, both academic and not. I was first involved with this team because of my research interest in ancient Mediterranean coastscapes: their surveying strategies, and especially their underwater survey project, strongly appealed to me. Luckily, they were looking for a diving-archaeologist and I was offered to co-supervise the diving team and full access to all data. As if all these positives were not enough, the warmth and cheerfulness of the team and their director won me over, and I can now count myself as an established asset of the MPM Project. This time my stay in Cyprus was also made possible by the funding received from the Research Training Group 1876 of Mainz University. For this trip, I only stayed for a relatively short time to continue the underwater work on a site that we individuated the previous year.

After spending the first day setting up the "base" with all the necessary equipment, on 23rd of May we started the actual fieldwork – and not without setbacks. After we drove to the survey area covering the municipalities of Moni, Pyrgos, Monagrouli and Pentakomo, the land and the underwater archaeologists (among whom, myself - Fig. 2) split up to reach their respective fields. Unfortunately, due to the storms that rocked the island during the past few days, work proceeded slower than scheduled. The unusually unfavourable marine conditions hampered the underwater excavation, which could not take place as programmed. Our site is located on the collapsed cliff rocks at a very shallow depth, well within the reach of the wave undertow: working in such conditions could put both the material and the divers in danger and only limited test soundings were made when possible.

Figure 2: The diving and snorkelling team (Photo courtesy of MPM Survey Project, University of Chieti).

The weather improved after the first three days and thanks to the rise in outside temperatures and despite the strong current and cold water, it was at least possible to continue the aquatic survey for the full length of the bay, which was originally scheduled for next October, instead of the actual excavation. Due to the changes in plans of the underwater mission, the ground team also redirected their efforts to survey the cliffs and fields immediately facing the seafront. In the water, the anthropization visible on the land was not nearly as obvious, with the exception of a dock in the proximity of a quarrying site (Fig. 3) and, on my last day of fieldwork (as in the best archaeological tradition), we encountered a significant scatter of cultural material that may be consistent with an anchorage.

Figure 3: View from land of the quarrying site: the darker spot in the centre-right is the underwater dock (Photo by Mari Yamasaki).

Despite the relative misfortune of not being able to excavate as much as we had hoped, the survey nonetheless produced significant information. From the strictly archaeological point of view, the team was able to localize a complex system of settlements that connected the sea to the hinterland via the fluvial valleys of the Moni and Pyrgos rivers, changing through the different periods as the type of exploitation of the coastal resources changed.

A parallel objective of the survey was the appraisal of the risk represented by development and touristic exploitation of the coastal zones. In fact, both represent a heavy menace for this historically rich region. Between the eighties and the first decade of the third millennium, the coastal limestone has been massively quarried to produce cement. More recently, a new form of tourism based on massive all-inclusive resorts turned this potential ally into a menace for the local natural and archaeological heritage. Whilst the reasons behind the problem represented by industry are clear, it is harder to understand why touristic development would want to erase the potential source of income represented by archaeology. 

What we encountered during one of our days in the field is but a tiny example. During the study of the work done by earlier archaeological missions, whose area of interest happened to partly overlap with our own, we read that a previous survey from 2007 reported the presence of a Bronze Anchor embedded in one of the low stone walls at the end of the beach we were currently studying. The object was photographed and measured but at the time could not be removed due to jurisdictional conflict between the two regional districts of Limassol and Larnaca. Despite our best efforts in examining every bit of wall and all but combing the bay and the beach, we failed to re‑locate it. We asked the people working in the beach establishments only to receive a disturbing confirmation: there was indeed an object similar to the one in our photo, but no one had seen it since the construction of the new seafront restaurant. We returned to the car with strong suspicion that another piece of archaeology was lost to development, but all the more aware of that archaeology alone can only keep a record, and that the key to preserving the past is to maintain good communication between the parties involved.

Luckily things have changed greatly since 2007. Thanks to an ever growing degree of cooperation between foreign archaeological missions and the Department of Antiquities, some progress – however slow – has been made towards the integration of cultural heritage and economic development, and to prevent petty bureaucratic problems from stopping archaeological research and preservation. As far as the MPM Survey Project is concerned, a tight cooperation with the local authorities from the Limassol District resulted in the joint elaboration of protective measures for the area: the survey grounds are now under a strict surveillance for their archaeological potential, allowing for a more accurate mapping of the sites on the territory, and for prompt intervention against illegal construction and looting activities. It is our job, as archaeologists - regardless of nationality or affiliation-, to collaborate for the preservation of the unique cultural and natural heritage that lies on the beautiful island of Cyprus (Fig. 4).
Figure 4. Left: Wheat field in the Moni River valley. Right: Limestone cliffs at Agios Georgios Alamanos (Photos by Mari Yamasaki).