Encounters with Athens, Rome and Jerusalem: (re)visiting sites of textual authority in the C19th and early C20th

International Conference held in partnership with the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology, Birkbeck, University of London, supported by Birkbeck Institute of Humanities

Event Information and Booking

1st July, 2013 - 2nd July, 2013
12:00 am - 12:00 am
Birkbeck, University of London, Council Room, Torrington Square Main Entrance, London WC1E 7JL
Stefano Evangalista, University of Oxford; Simon Goldhill, University of Cambridge; Donatien Grau, Université Paris-Sorbonne; Constanze Guthenke, Princeton University; Miriam Leonard, University College London; and Billie Melman, Tel Aviv University

This two-day international conference explores the diverse ways in which the cultural authority of Athens, Rome and Jerusalem has mediated the experience and identities of those places in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Encounters with these resonant yet changing cities, articulated in text and image, also played a key role in developing discourses of religious identity, gender, cosmopolitanism and nationalism, antiquity and modernity.

This conference will explore a number of issues:

  • How did the authority of ancient texts, religious and secular, motivate and condition the experience of travel to, and investigation and understanding of, the physical places in which they had been produced?
  • To what extent did traditional Jewish and Christian ideas of pilgrimage influence these journeys?
  • In what ways did the experience of travel to places which often confounded visitors’ expectations cause travellers, and those who read their accounts, to reassess their views of the texts themselves?
  • What difference, if any, did it make when a textual relationship was supplemented by travel and contact with ancient spaces in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries?
  • How did travellers engage with the political changes which transformed these regions, particularly in the interwar years?


Eitan Bar-Yosef, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
Rachel Bryant Davies, Independent Scholar
Chloe Chard, Independent Scholar
Bryan Cheyette, University of Reading
Stefano Evangelista, University of Oxford
Katie Fleming, Queen Mary, University of London
Hilary Fraser, Birkbeck, University of London
Simon Goldhill, University of Cambridge
Donatien Grau, Université Paris-Sorbonne
Constanze Güthenke, Princeton University
Miriam Leonard, University College London
Billie Melman, Tel Aviv University


Conference co-convenors:
David Feldman, Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism
Catharine Edwards, Department of History, Classics and Archaeology, Birkbeck, University of London

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