CLAS 525: Timescapes of the Premodern World Fall 2021 ~ Prof. Ann Marie Yasin and Dr. Carolyn Laferrière
Image: Unknown photographer, Kerameikos, albumen print, 1875. Pan Art Collections, online exhibition, Metamorphoses of Athens, 1839-1950, curated by H. Yiakoumis and Tasos A. Andreou.
This seminar looks at temporality in premodern cultures, focusing especially on the ways in which communities measured, represented, and experienced time through the material world—in landscapes and monuments, sites and artefacts, bodies and emplaced performance. Course topics are broadly comparative, drawing on cultures and historical moments in the ancient and medieval Mediterranean. We will examine, for example, how objects decayed and were repaired over time, how premodern communities witnessed temporality in natural landscapes and built environments, how they structured seasonal rhythms through procession and dance, and how stories about past (and future) figures and events—both divine and human—were anchored to and accessed through objects and places.
Central to our investigation will be methodological questions about how we access and analyze the experience of time in the distant past via—or despite—our own post-Industrial, post-Darwinian perspective. How do we go about trying to recapture a premodern understanding of the passage of time from surviving literary, visual, and archaeological evidence? How can a richer understanding of ancient conceptions of temporality enhance our sense of how people, objects, and monuments interacted with each other through space and across time?
The team-taught seminar is affiliated with USC’s Center for the Premodern World (CPW) and aims to foster comparative analysis and dialogue across multiple disciplinary communities and areas of study, including Classics, Art History, Religion, and History.