The roots of contemporary culture will never be taken for granted as long as Classical Thought at Concordia has a say. The CT@C, as its members call it for short, is a consortium of scholars with research interests in classical literature, philosophy, late antiquity and the classical tradition.
Concordia is particularly well placed to serve as the centre for teaching and researching the classical tradition. A cluster of recent hires in classics, philosophy, political science, English and Italian are studying the role played by the ancient world in forming modern cultures.
They cover a broad historical range and cross many disciplines, including classical antiquity (Sean Gurd), ancient philosophy and the history of science (Andrea Falcon), political science (Marlene Sokolon), early Christianity and Judaism (Lorenzo DiTommaso), the early modern period (Italian scholar Dario Brancato) and the late 18th and early 19th century (English literary scholar Jonathan Sachs).
Gurd, an assistant professor of ancient Greek studies in the Department of Classics, Modern Languages and Linguistics, explained, “our mission is to further teaching and scholarship on the heritage of the ancient world in all its major instantiations — literature, religion, political thought, philosophy and art — and at all times and places.”
Classics is not only interdisciplinary, it’s intercultural. “Each of the major monotheisms — Judaism, Christianity and Islam — has benefited from creative dialogues with Greek philosophy and literature. Indeed, the Islamic tradition played a crucial role in the survival of many aspects of ancient science and philosophy.”
Gurd says there’s a strong resurgence of interest in the subject. “In the last 10 years, the study of the classical tradition has become a major new area of research across the humanities, drawing contributions from art history, language and literature departments, philosophy, and classical studies.
“The transmission and reception of classical thought is now seen as a major means of self-definition for the modern West. The history of scholarship, education, and artistic influence have become exciting new avenues for the exploration of the conflicts and negotiations that defined the modern world.”
Vehicles like the International Journal of the Classical Tradition have sprung up to document this research, and existing journals are making space in their pages for studies of the classical tradition. Several presses have established series dedicated to the field.
“Our hope is to be able to build connections between scholars at Concordia and in the broader academic community in Montreal who are engaged in one of the many aspects of this important and growing subject,” Gurd said.
The group is holding a lunchtime lecture series and expects to welcome a major international scholar to give a lecture next year.
“We have also proposed a minor in the study of the classical tradition, which will give students an opportunity to study the heritage of ancient Greece and Rome.
“The program will provide a synoptic view of how the classical tradition has influenced multiple disciplines and forms of thought from antiquity through the present day. This program will, with any luck, be open to students in the fall of 2008. A major program along similar lines is in the planning stages.”
To follow the development of the group, visit their webpage, classicalthought.concordia.googlepages.com.