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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | GLOBALIZED CLASSICS | Follow-Up 2016: Globalizing wisdom traditions

Globalizing wisdom traditions: Transperspectivist research in Ancient Studies

17th–20th August 2016 Berlin



after wisdomOrganiser: Tomás Bartoletti (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin/University of Buenos Aires)


Teaching staff: Glenn Most (Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa/University of Chicago), Michael Puett (Harvard University), Markham Geller (Freie Universität Berlin) 


Participants: Gaston J. Basile (University of Buenos Aires), Thomas Crone (University of Bonn), Yung In Chae  (École des hautes études en sciences sociales/Cambridge), Andrew Y. B. Hui (Yale-NUS College Singapore), Fabio Pagani (Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities), Luke Parker (University of Chicago), Paolo Visigalli (Ludwig-Maximilian-University Munich), Leihua Weng (Pacific Lutheran University), Kenneth W. Yu (University of Chicago), Jenny Zhao (University of Cambridge).



The Summer University in 2015 concluded with the modification of the program motto from “Globalized Classics” to “Globalizing Classics” in order to emphasize the work that remains to be done. In the “Wisdom literature” section led by Glenn Most and Michael Puett, the stimulating dialogue between the participants demonstrated the potential and challenges of intercultural and multidisciplinary collaboration while at the same time illuminating particular challenges within our respective fields of expertise. The aim of this 2016 follow-up event is to extend and to deepen the conversations initiated during the summer school.


This meeting will not only revisit the provisional conclusions we drew at the end of last summer, but also rethink and problematize the conventional categories, concepts and perspectives deployed in the study of wisdom literature. One question we hope to develop further is how to grasp the logic of Greek “wisdom literature” vis-à-vis categories used in Chinese scholarship and, moreover, to question the very status of the category of “literature” as applied to corpora we typically designate as concerned with “wisdom.” Furthermore, the workshop will interrogate how different reading and exegetical practices might transcend cultural and temporal boundaries; how, for instance, might the allegorical hermeneutics of the Near Eastern tradition be applied to the Chinese or Greek materials, which certainly had different book cultures and different reading practices? In other words, studying “wisdom literature” comparatively means paying attention not only to what we read but also to how these texts articulate different historically-rooted ways of reading.


Eschewing the importation of “Greek or Western” categories and paradigms into the study of wisdom literature from other cultural and historical domains, we will develop a kind of comparative research that puts Chinese and Near Eastern analytical concepts front and center. “Globalizing wisdom traditions” will be transperspectivist and deterritorializing in spirit, aiming not only to deconstruct traditional notions of what wisdom and literature constitute; in addition to that we hope also to be constructive and to put forth a novel and more capacious model for navigating the complex body of texts that is “wisdom literature”. We plan to conclude with a meditation on the methodologies and analytical processes developed in both seminars for a definition of transperspectivist research on “wisdom literature” in antiquity, which, ideally, will lead to a publication about how to employ the category of wisdom literature in a comparative and more transcultural way.