Upcoming Lecture: Oratorical Performance Space in Ancient Greece

Oratorical Performance Space in Ancient Greece: Digital Reconstruction and Interpretive Visualization
Speaker: Richard Graff, University of Minnesota
February 21, 2013, 6pm, ASU Tempe Campus
Business Administration Building, C Wing, Room 316

This talk will present findings from a long-term collaborative and interdisciplinary study of the physical settings of ancient Greek oratorical performance. The structures considered are found throughout the Greek world and date from the late-Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic periods (ca. 500-100 BCE) — principally, buildings constructed to house meetings of city councils (bouleuteria), theatral spaces utilized for larger citizen assemblies, and various structures fitted for use as law courts. In addition to providing a sorely needed synthesis of the archaeological and literary evidence for these structures, the study employs both traditional and emergent research methods to elucidate the ways their design organized the communicative (inter)actions that took place within them. 3D digital modeling and several forms of advanced visualization have been utilized to identify salient architectural-spatial and acoustical variables in a selection of Greek civic structures, and to assess their suitability as venues for speaking, seeing, and hearing. The talk will summarize the inventory of speaking sites considered in the study and outline the methods being used to reconstruct the staging of ancient oratorical performance. It will then illustrate these methods through an examination of a few significant but neglected structures, as well as a single well known but especially enigmatic one — the meeting place of the Athenian assembly called the Pnyx.

Richard Graff (BA, UC-Berkeley; MA and PhD, Northwestern U.) is an Associate Professor of Writing Studies at the University of Minnesota. His scholarship considers technical and cultural aspects of Greco-Roman rhetoric, focusing especially on early theories of prose style and the relationship between oratorical text and speech-performance. He has also published on the reception and adaptation of classical-traditional rhetorical and stylistic precepts in the “new rhetorics” of Kenneth Burke and Chaïm Perelman. His articles on these subjects have appeared in Philosophy & Rhetoric, Rhetorica, Rhetoric Society Quarterly, and other venues. He is co-editor of The Viability of the Rhetorical Tradition (SUNY Press, 2005). Professor Graff has served as president of the American Society for the History of Rhetoric and, at Minnesota, is a member of the graduate faculties in Classics and Communication Studies and director of the interdisciplinary graduate minor in Literacy & Rhetorical Studies.

Sponsored by Project Humanities, the ASU School of International Letters and Cultures, and the ASU English Department

For a printable PDF flyer for this lecture, click here: Graff Flyer