Civilised Bodies? A Workshop on Classical Sculpture and Civilisation from Antiquity to the Present Day, sponsored by the UCL Centre for Research on the Dynamics of Civilisation.
Since antiquity, classical sculpture has served to reflect and define the forms of embodiment associated with civilisation. Beginning with the Renaissance, moreover, classical sculpture has been continually re-appropriated in the service of new ideals of civilisation, in fields as diverse as art and medicine, and in political regimes as dissimilar as 18th-century Britain and Nazi Germany.
Thus classical sculpture has been a key theme in an incredibly wide range of scholarship dealing with the idea of civilisation. Scholars of 18th-century Britain such as PJ Ayers, for example, have identified the crucial role of classical sculpture in shaping political culture. Meanwhile those in film studies, such as Michael Mackenzie, have discussed the striking role of classical sculpture in the films of Leni Riefenstahl. But what is it exactly that has defined Ancient sculpture as the embodiment of civilisation?
Today classical sculpture is commonly seen as an expression of norms of civilised forms of embodiment. Equally, classical sculpture is still taken to embody the roots of western civilisation, as seen in the heated debate about the Elgin marbles. This one-day interdisciplinary workshop brings scholars from a wide range of fields to discuss and critique the role of ancient sculpture in embodying civilisation.