Presented by: Gareth Williams
Abstract: Many of the discussions that seek to identify or define a modern ‘global humanities’ quickly run into the challenges of (i) establishing serious – and seriously meaningful – criteria of intercultural contact; (ii) devising meaningful methodologies to demonstrate such contact at a provable level of intercultural interfacing; and (iii) showing what the consequence of that contact might be – e.g., the mutually enriching (or potentially compromising or damaging?) effects of such contact on the cultures that are involved in or exposed to that admixture. Can experience of similar processes of cultural admixture inform the modern conversation about such intercultural interaction, contestation, hybridity, or cross-fertilization? An important test case is suggestively offered by the historical status of Latin language as a both a cause and symptom of intercultural mixture and contestation through the ages, from the Classical period to at least the Early Modern era. Can modern introspection about the nature, mechanics, and consequence of intercultural contact towards the forging of a global humanities gain from appreciation of Latin’s centrality in similar forms of cultural contestation through the ages? To what extent can forward-looking assessments of the global humanities initiative gain by looking backwards at, and perhaps learning from, previous models (and especially a Latinate model) of ‘global’ cultural reach, hybridization, and evolution? Hence The Seasonal Flow of the proposed title above: the modern moment is arguably a new and/or different iteration of a cultural flow that is perhaps recurrent through the ages and via the highs and lows of imperial sequence, transience, and decline.