International Symposium on “Classicising learning, performance and power: Eurasian perspectives from Antiquity to early modern Period” 2019

Dear colleagues,

The team of the PAIXUE project is delighted to announce that its international Symposium on “Classicising learning, performance and power: Eurasian perspectives from Antiquity to early modern Period” will take place between the 12th and the 14th of December 2019 at the University of Edinburgh.

The symposium brings together scholars from across North America, Europe and Asia in order to explore how public performances of classicising learning (however defined in each culture) influenced and served imperial or state power in premodern political systems across Eurasia and North Africa. Aiming at encouraging scholarly exchanges among experts in different fields and cultures, the papers relate to the following three interconnected thematic strands: (a) Classicising learning and the social order, (b) Classicising learning and the political order, and (c) Classicising learning and the self.

Speakers: Robert Ashmore (Berkeley), Floris Bernard (Ghent), Mirko Canevaro (Edinburgh), Javier Cha (Seoul), Ming-kin Chu (Hong Kong), Christophe Erismann (Vienna), Michael Fuller (University of California, Irvine), Elena Gittleman (Bryn Mawr), Jaakko Hämeen-Anttila (Edinburgh), James Hankins (Harvard), Florian Hartmann (Aachen), Michael Hope (Yonsei), Pascal Hugon (Vienna), Takeshi Inomata (Arizona), Ashton Lazarus (Kyushu), Marina Loukaki (Athens), Christopher Nugent (Williams), Daphne Penna (Groningen), Alberto Rigolio (Durham), Asuka Sango (Carleton), Jonathan Skaff (Shippensburg), Luka Spoljarić (Zagreb), Ariel Stilerman (Stanford), Justin Stover (Edinburgh), Elizabeth Tyler (York), Lieve van Hoof (Ghent), Griet Vankeerberghen (McGill), Milan Vukašinović (ANAMED, Koç University), Elvira Wakelnig (Vienna), Stephen H. West (Berkeley), Julian Yolles (Odense)

The full programme and the list of abstracts are available in our website. For your convenience we include below a copy of the program. Places are limited, so early registration is strongly recommended.


We much look forward to you participation!


Best wishes,


Foteini Spingou and Michael Höckelmann

On behalf of the PAIXUE team



PAIXUE Symposium

Classicising Learning, Performance, and Power

Eurasian Perspectives from Antiquity to the Early Modern Period


School of History, Classics & Archaeology

The University of Edinburgh

12–14 December 2019



Venue: Meadows Lecture Theatre, William Robertson Wing/Doorway 4, Old Medical School

Teviot Place, Edinburgh EH8 9AG



Time Where
8:15 Registration and coffee McMillan Room, William Robertson Wing/Doorway 4, Old Medical School – first floor
8:45 Welcome and opening remarks

Niels Gaul and Curie Virág



  1. Classicising learning and political philosophy

    Chair Foteini Spingou (University of Edinburgh)

9:00 Christophe Erismann (University of Vienna)

Educating students, burying Iconoclasm, and advising the prince:

The classicising approach of Photius, patriarch of Constantinople

9:30 Javier Cha (Seoul National University)

Creativity in the service of the state: autocracy without orthodoxy

in the political philosophy of Sŏng Hyŏn (1439–1504)

10:00 Discussion
10:30 Coffee



  1. Classical models of rulership and education

    Chair Gavin Kelly (University of Edinburgh)

11:00 Mirko Canevaro (University of Edinburgh)

The Attic orators in the Hellenistic period:

Political relevance and ‘classicising’ learning

11:30 Elvira Wakelnig (University of Vienna)

Ibn Bahrīz’s definitions and divisions

12:00 Florian Hartmann (University of Aachen)

Classicising learning within the political system of the Italian communes

(twelfth–thirteenth centuries)

12:30 Discussion
13:00 Lunch



  1. The politics of classicising learning

    Chair Joachim Gentz (University of Edinburgh)

14:30 Elizabeth Tyler (University of York)

‘A Theban Song’: Fratricide, civil war and the politics of classicism

in eleventh-century England

15:00 Michael Fuller (University of California, Irvine)

The Confucian canon and the construction of cultural identity in Song dynasty China

15:30 Luka Špoljarić (University of Zagreb)

Humanism and politics in Renaissance Dalmatia: Split, c.1490–c.1520

16:00 Discussion
16:30 Tea



  1. Establishing political authority through classicising learning

Chair Michael Höckelmann (University of Erlangen-Nürnberg)

17:00 Julian Yolles (University of Southern Denmark)

Performing learned Latinity in the Levant (twelfth–thirteenth centuries)

17:30 Marina Loukaki (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens)

Politics and religion in Byzantium: Bishops and classicising learning in the provinces;

Athens in the twelfth century

18:00 Ming-kin Chu (University of Hong Kong)

Performance of learning through imperial voice:

Parallel proses by Wang Zao and Sun Di in the northern–southern Song transition

18:30 Discussion
19:00 Welcome reception

McMillan Room, William Robertson Wing/Doorway 4, Old Medical School – first floor






  1. Receiving and reconstructing the ‘Classics’

Chair Alexander Riehle (Harvard University)

9:00 Christopher Nugent (Williams College)

Thinking through categories: The Chuxue ji and literary composition

9:30 Jaakko Hämeen-Anttila (University of Edinburgh)

Regaining the Zoroastrian past: Muslim elites and Zoroastrian wisdom

10:00 Justin Stover (University of Edinburgh)

The Spring of Pergusa: Greek into Latin in the eleventh and twelfth centuries

beyond the philosophical

10:30 Discussion
11:00 Coffee



  1. Examinations of classicising learning

    Chair Stephen McDowall (University of Edinburgh)

11:30 Robert Ashmore (University of California, Berkeley)

Competence and its failure in early Tang examinations

12:00 Floris Bernard (Ghent University)

Exploiting the talent for words: The sociological value of poetry and rhetoric in eleventh-century Byzantium

12:30 Discussion
12:45 Lunch



  1. Classicising education

    Chair Anna Shields (Princeton University)

14:00 Pascale Hugon (Austrian Academy of Sciences)

Tibetan Buddhist scholars and the Indian heritage

14:30 Alberto Rigolio (Durham University)

Education and paideia in early Syriac

15:00 James Hankins (Harvard University)

Philosophy, the liberal arts, and the humanities in Renaissance Italy

15:30 Discussion
16:00 Tea



  1. Arguing it out with the Classics

    Chair Divna Manolova (University of York)

16:30 Asuka Sango (Carleton University)

The acts and texts of commentary: Debate (rongi) as a means of classicising learning in medieval Japanese Buddhism

17:00 Michael Hope (Yonsei University)

The wisdom of royal glory: The oral transmission of knowledge at Mongol Quriltai ceremonies

17:30 Discussion
18:00 End of proceedings






  1. The social dynamics of classicising learning

   Chair Patricia Ebrey (University of Washington)

9:00 Lieve van Hoof (University of Ghent)

Libanius’ letters: Culture as an instrument for political power

9:30 Ashton Lazarus (Kyushu University)

Scholars and performers in Heian Japan: Addressing commoners in Fujiwara no Akihira’s writings

10:00 Milan Vukašinović (EHESS Paris)

Style, identity or legal argument? Classicising learning in the writings of thirteenth-century Epirote bishops

10:30 Discussion
11:00 Coffee



  1. Classicising learning and elite formation

    Chair Eduardo Manzano Moreno (St Andrews/CSIC Madrid)

11:30 Griet Vankeerberghen (McGill University)

The Ban family of western and eastern Han and the performance of classicising learning

12:00 Takeshi Inomata (The University of Arizona)

Elite performance and power in Classic Maya society

12:30 Discussion
12:45 Lunch



  1. Enacting classicising learning

    Chair Lucy Grig (University of Edinburgh)

14:00 Elena Gittleman (Bryn Mawr College)

Holy actors: Christian learning and the ancient theatre in the Menologion of Basil II

14:30 Stephen West (University of California, Berkeley)

Classicisation and humour: Upending classicism in quotidian texts in the Song

15:00 Ariel Stilerman (Stanford University)

Classical poetry across the spatial and social expansion of court culture in early medieval Japan

15:30 Discussion
16:00 Tea



  1. Classicising learning in law and diplomacy

    Chair Niels Gaul (University of Edinburgh)

16:30 Jonathan Skaff (Shippensburg University)

Sui-Tang diplomatic protocol as Eurasian ritual performance

17:00 Daphne Penna (University of Groningen)

Classical literature in Byzantine legal sources

17:30 Discussion
17:45 Closing remarks: Foteini Spingou and Michael Höckelmann
18:00 Farewell reception

McMillan Room, William Robertson Wing/Doorway 4, Old Medical School – first floor


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