A Digital Journeying Around. Or How Reading Pausanias can Reorient Classics

6:00pm - 7:30pm / Thursday 23rd March 2023 / Venue: Lecture Theatre B Central Teaching Hub
Type: Seminar / Category: Department
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The Department of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology and the Liverpool Classical Association present:
A Digital Journeying Around. Or How Reading Pausanias can Reorient Classics
Professor Elton Barker, Open University

Writing in the second century CE, Pausanias provides a deep dive into the cultural centres of the ancient Greek mainland. Describing the built environment through which he moves — from buildings to statues, even rocks on the ground — Pausanias supplements his account with stories about the places and objects he encounters. The challenge when following in his footsteps is to negotiate this 'thick' description, where every step of the way can be viewed through multiple temporal frames. In this talk, I will suggest that digital technology affords ways of not only identifying the granularity of the places Pausanias describes but also of getting a better sense of their place in the narrative, where places are related to each other and readers are challenged by the constant and insistent temporal shifts to place themselves in Greece's storied landscape. But that is not all. I also want to show how Pausanias is “good to think with” when modelling digitally informed approaches to Classics. In particular, I will discuss the use of maps as tools for research (rather than as illustrations); the importance of collaboration and public scholarship; and the transformative potential of the technology of Linked Open Data, for helping us understand the ancient world as every bit relational, intersectional, and excitingly dynamic as ours.

Elton Barker has joined the Open University (School of Arts & Humanities, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences) as Professor of Greek Literature and Culture in 2009. Before that, he was a Tutor and Lecturer at Christ Church, Oxford (2004-2009). He also lectured at the universities of Bristol, Nottingham and Reading.
His career in Classical Civilisation began at the University of Leeds, where he completed his undergraduate and graduate studies in Greek Civilisation. He then took a further Masters in Greek and Latin at the Ohio State University in the US. He obtained his PhD from the University of Cambridge (Pembroke College), where he investigated representations of verbal contest - or agon - in epic, historiography and tragedy, under the supervision of Simon Goldhill and Paul Cartledge.
I went on to hold the posts of Junior Research Fellowship at Wolfson College, Cambridge (2002-2004) and of Visiting Fellow at the Advanced Seminar on Literature and Culture in the Ancient Mediterranean and Near East, at Venice International University (2003-2004). In 2012-2013 he had an Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellowship for Experienced Researchers, at Historische Geographie des antiken Mittelmeerraumes, Freie Universität Berlin, and the Institut für Informatik, Universität Leipzig. In 2014 he was awarded a Visiting Fellowship at TOPOI: The Formation and Transformation of Space and Knowledge in Ancient Civilizations, at Berlin's Freie Universität. From 2014-2015 he held an A. S. Onassis Foundation Visiting Fellowship at the National Hellenic Research Foundation in Athens.