Response Papers - week 8
Questions, ideas, notes for discussion:
- Concerning especially Asher-Greve's contribution and partly Irene Winter's (Sex, Rhetoric and the public monument), I am slightly concerned about the consideration of the Mesopotamian literary tradition (often dubbed "Great Tradition") as monolithic and unchanging, as illustrated in the quite liberal and relaxed use of texts from a variety of periods in Mesopotamian history stretching from mid 3rd millennium to mid 1st. Using much later texts such as the Neo-Assyrian Gilgamesh, 3rd millennium pictorial representations are explained away confidently and I find this a little bit too bold. Same issue came up when we were discussing the Sacred marriage ritual being projected on the Uruk Vase representation. What to do?
- Winter's discussion of "cultural poetics" versus "cultural rhetorics" towards the end of her article is interesting in the sense that she is moving from a socially shared process of cultural poiesis to a politically motivated phenomenon of the production of ideologies through signification and representation. I would argue that in fact the latter is included in the former, in the sense that the creation of an articulate royal rhetoric always, but always requires a collective resonance. Agree, disagree? As Winter argues, does representation really constitute its subjects? Or do those subjects constitute the representation?
- I have a feeling that Joyce's discussion of embodied subjectivity throws a new perspective over what we have discussed in class in terms of searching for individuals in the archaeological past. (See e.g. Brad's contributions here and here). I hope we can refine this discussion a bit through her ideas. How does one approach those individuals as past social actors? Can we sort out some strategies that would be useful for all of us? Case: Bahrani's discussion of the ontological status Assyro-Babylonian individual (where body and soul are not separated in a dualism). And its implications for representation of the individual (e.g. "the ancient Near Eastern belief in the power of signifiers and their status as an integral part of the real" Bahrani 2003: 122)?
Stele of Naram Sin, Akkadian period. From Susa. Commemorating the Akkadian victory over the Lullubi tribe on the Zagros mountains.
Image Credit: Aruz, J. (ed.); 2003. Art of the First Cities. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Gender performance or performed gender: Pakistani hijras in a shrine.