Call for Papers: Ovid in the Global Village: Interconnectivity and Alienation in Ovidian Studies A Panel Sponsored by the International Ovidian Society

This panel is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Ashley Simone (1988-2021),

beloved friend, mother, and Ovidian.

longa uia est, propera! nobis habitabitur orbis
     ultimus, a terra terra remota mea.

Hasten--the way is long. The most distant part of the world will be inhabited by us, this earth of mine removed from earth?

-Ovid, Tristia 1.1.127-8

“Today, after more than a century of electric technology, we have extended our central nervous system itself in a global embrace, abolishing both space and time as far as our planet is concerned.”

-Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media (London 1964: 31)

Ovid might well be the most “global” of Roman poets, if we equate Rome with the world. The famous line from Ars 1.174, ingens orbis in Urbe fuit (“the huge world was in the city”), signals a favorite theme: Ovid’s oeuvre celebrates Rome as a cosmopolis into which the world’s diverse people and commodities flowed. These lines of thinking, in one sense, accept the terms of Augustus’ ideology of empire, from Rome’s administrative control of the orbis terrarum to its ideological interweaving of cosmos and imperium. And books like Metamorphoses 15, notably Pythagoras’ pronouncements and Ovid’s self-apotheosis, offer visions of the interconnectedness of all things across space and time.

Yet from another perspective, particularly from exile, Ovid also challenges the possibility of meaningful long-distance connection, along with the notion that Romans could be truly global citizens of an ecumenical empire. At the end of Tristia 1.1, for instance, Ovid begs his poem to hasten from Rome to Tomis, an orbis / ultimus far removed from his familiar earth (1.1.127-8, quoted above). This couplet has peculiar resonance for classicists in 2021, as we reflect on the experience of a global pandemic that has sequestered us (and continues to sequester us) in our homes and forced us into an unprecedented reliance upon digital litterae to escape, if only in virtually, our own isolation. Ovid’s exilic complaints about isolation double as vestiges of hope in communication technologies, in the possibilities of global subjecthood and virtual presence -- hopes that are never quite fulfilled from the author’s perspective, even as they seem to be vindicated by our own continued readings.

By situating Ovid not in the orbis in urbe but rather in the so-called global village, with all the problems it raises, we allude to a concept first deployed by Marshall McLuhan to examine the collapsing of distance in the global exchange of information. On one hand, McLuhan challenges us to fathom how Ovid conceptualized and strategized about interconnectivity in the world in which he operated, before modern communication technologies. On the other hand, McLuhan’s concept helpfully decenters the flows of energy and information that join the world. Rome becomes not a capital city in binary antithesis with a peripheral empire, but rather, one among many nodalities of intersecting and fluctuating historical, cultural, and physical forces. With this model in mind, we aim to consider how various forms of global interconnectivity shape the Ovidian text, readings of that text over time and space, and the ways that it is taught and received.

We equally hope to take cues from Ovid in problematizing the global village. Not everyone agrees that globalizing forces operate fairly or positively in the modern world. Ovid’s exile poems, too, challenge the possibility that Roman culture, or even abstract concepts like time and space, could be universally shared. Ovid raises questions about whether the Romans, however defined, were prepared to negotiate the imperium sine fine for which they ostensibly longed -- questions that are still to apply to modern forms of imperialism, eastern and western, economic and cultural.

We suggest that Ovid articulates visions of globalism, interconnection, and their challenges that are profoundly relevant to twenty-first century classics. This is all the truer for the isolated, decentralized, and deterritorialized among us. Hence this panel welcomes and will accommodate scholars of any nationality or identity, participating however travel conditions permit. Building on the groundswell of interest in diversifying and globalizing approaches to Ovidian poetry, this panel seeks to consider what Ovid and the Ovidian tradition can teach us about interconnectivity, transcendence of distance, unity amid multiplicity, and the problems they raise. Above all, this panel hopes to consider ways that Ovid can guide our efforts to build a more global community of students and scholars.

Possible topics include:

  • Forms of interconnectedness in Ovid, Ovidian studies, and their teaching
  • Intercultural or transnational dynamics in the Ovidian text and pedagogy
  • Ovid and multilingualism or cultural transcendence
  • The dangers of globalism and universalism in Ovid and his reception
  • Ovid and the internet, virtuality, or the digital world
  • The Mediterranean and Red Sea trade, maritime interconnectivity, or global economies in Ovid
  • Global collaborations in Ovidian Studies
  • Pluralistic community-building (or its challenges) in Ovid
  • Ovidian narratology, metaphor, and intertext/allusion that advances a global perspective
  • Failures of globalism in or around Ovid (e.g., instances where a narrowly Eurocentric view has limited interpretative possibilities)
  • Ecocritical, transhuman, and non-anthropocentric approaches to the Ovidian globe

Direct any questions to the organizers, Del A. Maticic (del.maticic@nyu.edu), Nandini Pandey (npandey3@jh.edu), and Jinyu Liu (jliu@depauw.edu).

Please submit your abstract for a 20-minute paper using this Google Form by March 11, 2022. The text of the abstract should not mention the name of the author. Abstracts should not exceed 500 words (excluding bibliography); follow the SCS guidelines for individual abstracts. Submissions will be reviewed anonymously. In the spirit of making the panel as fruitful and supportive as it can be for younger scholars, we are enthusiastic about the possibility of arranging for pre-circulation of papers or for a constructive workshop after the panel to facilitate the integration of feedback and the discussion of next steps, like possible publication of the panel.