Lucretius and Modernity Conference

Long time APS member, Emma Bianchi, who will be joining the Comparative Literature Department at NYU, called our attention to this conference on Lucretius and Modernity to be held there this October.

Here is the description:

The long shadow cast by Lucretius’s poem falls across the disciplines of philosophy, literary history and criticism, religious studies, classics, political philosophy… Over the past two decades, interest in De rerum natura in each of these fields has grown dramatically, in some cases as hidden Epicurean influences on well-known writers have come to light, in others when the decline of a school or of a particular orthodoxy has left room for a return to Lucretius, and to the Epicurean tradition more broadly—as with the eclipse of normative materialisms in philosophy and politics. Contemporary physics has found in the ancient atomist tradition a strange and evocative mirror; the place of Lucretius’s poetics in the development of modern poetic genres, techniques, and themes has come into sharp focus; political philosophers have identified what Althusser called a “subterranean current” in the materialist tradition, flowing from Epicurus through Spinoza and Marx and to Deleuze, propelled by Lucretius’s great poem.

“Lucretius and Modernity” is the first conference to bring together classicists, philosophers and literary critics from Europe and the United States interested centrally in the work of Lucretius and in the long history of his reception. Clustered about four topics—1. What is modern about Lucretius? 2. What is Lucretian about modernity? 3. How to do things with Lucretius: Physics, Politics, Poetics; and 4. Following Lucretius—the papers presented at “Lucretius and Modernity” will provide the occasion for a reflection across disciplinary borders on the poem’s continuing, growing importance.

For more information, visit the Lucretius and Modernity conference site on the Comp Lit website at NYU.

Given Stephen Greenblatt’s recent essay on Lucretius’s “On The Nature Of Things” in the New Yorker, it seems that Lucretius is in the air.