Curse Tablets in the Wider Realm of Execrations

Friday, October 11
3:30 pm - 7:00 pm

Franke Institute for the Humanities
1100 E. 57th St., JRL S-102
Chicago, Illinois 60637

This is the fourth in a series of “Curses in Context” conferences dedicated to the local and material contexts of curses – usually inscribed on lead tablets – that have an enduring legacy in the ancient Mediterranean, beginning in the Classical Period in Sicily, going on to Athens, and further spreading first throughout the Greek-speaking world and then to every corner of the Roman Empire. It is a millennium-long tradition, but until recently scholars have focused on the similarities that these texts share and how they moved from one area to another. In the three previous conferences we asked scholars in a sense to ignore the similarities and the assumption of an unchanging genre and to focus instead on how curse tablets differ from one another when found in a specific region or time period. The three initial meetings have been enormously productive, and the proceedings of all three will be published by the end of 2020. This final conference is designed to be a capstone conference that will allow us to think about these tablets in the wider realm of circum-Mediterranean execrations, while keeping our focus on their provenance and material contexts. The event is sponsored by the Curses in Context project at the Neubauer Collegium and co-sponsored by the Franke Institute for the Humanities.

SCHEDULE

Friday, October 11
Franke Institute for the Humanities

3:30 – 3:40 p.m.
Introduction: The Curses in Context Project

Session 1: Cursing in the Roman World
Chair: Christopher A. Faraone

3:40 – 4:20 p.m.
Richard Gordon (Erfurt University): “The ‘Corporeal Script’ in Latin Curse Tablets” (read by Cliff Ando)

4:20 – 5:00 p.m.
Alexander Hollmann (University of Washington): “Curse Tablets from the Well in the Procurator’s Palace at Caesarea”

5:00 – 5:10 p.m.
Coffee Break

5:10 – 6:00 p.m.
Celia Sánchez Natalías (University of Zaragoza): “Curses against Thieves and Roman Law: The Legal and Social Context”

6:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Reception

7:00 p.m.
Dinner

Saturday, October 12
Neubauer Collegium

Session 2: Classical Athens
Chair: Sarah Morris

9:00 – 9:40 a.m.
Radcliffe Edmonds (Bryn Mawr College): “Contingent Catastrophe or Agonistic Advantage: The Rhetoric of Violence in Classical Athenian Curses”

9:40 – 10:20 a.m.
Jessica Lamont (Yale University): “A Baby Chicken in a Pot: A New Curse from the Athenian Agora”

10:20 – 10:40 a.m.
Coffee Break

Session 3: Social Contexts
Chair: Andrej Petrovic

10:40 – 11:20 a.m.
Zinon Papakonstantinou (University of Illinois at Chicago): “Agency and Dispute Resolution in the Judicial Curse Tablets from Athens”

11:20 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Phil Venticinque (University of Chicago): “Bound for Success: Cursing and Commerce in Antiquity”

12:00 – 2:00 p.m.
Lunch

Session 4: Roman Egypt
Chair: Raquel Martín Hernández

2:00 – 2:40 p.m.
Drew Wilburn (Oberlin College): “Ritual Exchange betweeen Egyptian Magical Texts and the Selenite Curse Tablets from Amathous, Cyprus”

2:40 – 3:20 p.m.
Christopher A. Faraone (University of Chicago): “The Curse Tablets of PGM VII: A North African Tradition?”

3:20 – 3:40 p.m.
Coffee Break

Session 5: Coptic Egypt
Chair: Margaret Mitchell

3:40 – 4:20 p.m.
David Brakke (Ohio State University): “Cursing Monks: The Forms and Functions of Early Monastic Execrations in Egypt”

4:20 – 5:00 p.m.
Sofia Torallas Tovar (University of Chicago) and Anastasia Maravela (University of Oslo): “Impossible Anatomies: Coptic Curses and the Torments of the Beyond”

5:00 – 6:00 p.m.
Roundtable Discussion

Cliff Ando (University of Chicago)
Bruce Lincoln (University of Chicago)
Anastasia Maravela (University of Oslo)
Raquel Martín Hernández (Complutense University)
Margaret Mitchell (University of Chicago)
Sarah Morris (UCLA)
Susanne Paulus (University of Chicago)
Andrej Petrovic (University of Virginia)
Ivanna Petrovic (University of Virginia)

6:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Reception

7:00 p.m.
Dinner

Sunday, October 13
Neubauer Collegium

Session 6: General Reflections
Chair: Ivanna Petrovic

9:30 – 10:10 a.m.
Fritz Graf (Ohio State University): “What Is a Curse?”

10:10 – 10:50 a.m.
Greg Woolf (Institute of Classical Studies, London): “Cursing as a Transferable Technology: Provincial Appropriations of a Mediterranean Ritual”

10:50 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Coffee and Roundtable Discussion

Cliff Ando (University of Chicago)
Bruce Lincoln (University of Chicago)
Anastasia Maravela (University of Oslo)
Raquel Martín Hernández (Complutense University)
Sarah Morris (UCLA)
Susanne Paulus (University of Chicago)
Andrej Petrovic (University of Virginia)
Ivanna Petrovic (University of Virginia)

12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
Lunch