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Program in Early Cultures Events

 

Hidden Writing
Organized by John Bodel and Stephen Houston

Monday, April 11, 2016
Petteruti Lounge (75 Waterman Street)

This full-day workshop explores "hidden writing" -- scripts intended by form or placement to challenge, puzzle, and present difficulties of access, yet, with effort and skill, meant eventually to be legible by human and, at times, supernatural "readers." Examples would include Maya full-figure glyphs, "insect" or "bird script" from the Warring States period, puzzle-writing, "wild calligraphy" from China or Japan, and Arabic script so stylized as to be difficult to fathom.

"Hidden writing" contrives additional obstacles and challenges through formal embellishments or what might be called "sign involution" -- that is, by taking a perfectly lucid system of script and expanding, embellishing, adding extraneous elements for design reasons or reasons of ideology. Additional training or knowledge (or at least effort) is required. It is writing with self-conscious, deliberate impediments built in. Or it may be script whose aesthetic or formal component outweighs any impulse to "efficient" parsing. Other writing might be of abridged access, placed in hidden locations, not intended for human eyes, and possessed of magical efficacy that departs from any conventional notion of reading. 

The workshop will divide sessions into two themes: "hidden by form" and "hidden by placement".

Presenters:

John Bodel (Brown University, Latin epigraphy, history, https://vivo.brown.edu/display/jbodel)

Stephen Houston (Brown University, Maya text & image, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_D._Houston)

Jeffrey Moser (Brown University, Chinese art, later periods, https://vivo.brown.edu/display/jmoser)

Graham Oliver (Brown University, Greek epigraphy, https://vivo.brown.edu/display/goliver)

Scott Redford (SOAS, U of London, Islamic art & archaeology, http://www.soas.ac.uk/staff/staff92807.php)

Rachel Saunders (Harvard Art Museums, Japanese art, http://www.harvardartmuseums.org/teaching-and-research/curatorial-divisions/division-of-asian-and-mediterranean-art)

Andréas Stauder (EPHEE, Egyptian writing & civilization, https://ephe.academia.edu/AndreasStauder)

Haicheng Wang (U of Washington, Chinese art, early periods, http://art.washington.edu/art-history/art-history-faculty/haicheng-wang/)

 

Making a Mark: Graphs, Signs, and Contextual Writing in Early Cultures
Organized by John Bodel and Stephen Houston

Fall 2016
Location and Dates TBA

 

 

Additional Related Events

 

Culture and Religion of the Ancient Mediterranean Colloquium (CRAM)

The goal of the Culture and Religion in the Ancient Mediterranean Colloquium is to promote high-level, interdisciplinary dialogue among faculty and graduate students who deal with religion and culture in antiquity in the Mediterranean basin and west Asia, all rather loosely defined. CRAM meets monthly during the academic year. Each meeting lasts about an hour, and typically is centered on a pre-circulated paper. CRAM is currently administered by Religious Studies.

For the full schedule, visit CRAM's website.

 

Department of Classics Lectures

Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World Events

Events at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art