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Late Ancient Knowing

Explorations in Intellectual History

Catherine M. Chin (Editor), Moulie Vidas (Editor)


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In this collection of essays, scholars from a range of disciplines explore the activity of knowing in late antiquity by focusing on thirteen major concepts from the intellectual, social, political, and cultural history of the period. They ask two questions about each of these concepts: what did late ancient people know about them, and how was that knowledge expressed in people’s actions? Late Ancient Knowing integrates intellectual history, post-structuralist literary theory, and recent trends in cognitive science to examine the ways that historical thought-worlds both shaped individual lives and were in turn shaped by the actions of individuals. Each chapter treats its main concept as a problem both of knowledge and of practice or behavior. The result is a richly imagined description of how people of this time understood and navigated their world, from travel through the countryside and encounters with demons to philosophical medicine and the etiquette of imperial courts.
Introduction (Catherine M. Chin and Moulie Vidas)

1. Artifact (Mira Balberg)
2. Animal (Beth Berkowitz)
3. Language (Jeremy Schott)
4. Medicine (Heidi Marx-Wolf)
5. Cosmos (Catherine M. Chin)
6. Angel (Ellen Muehlberger)
7. God (Lewis Ayres)

8. Emperor (Matthew Canepa)
9. Ordo (Michael Kulikowski)
10. Christianization (Edward Watts)
11. Cleric (Kristina Sessa)
12. Countryside (Cam Grey)
13. Demon (Dayna Kalleres)
Afterword (Maud Gleason)

List of Contributors
Catherine M. Chin is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of California, Davis and author of Grammar and Christianity in the Late Roman World.

Moulie Vidas is Assistant Professor of Religion and Judaic Studies at Princeton University and author of Tradition and the Formation of the Talmud.
“Informed by up-to-date theoretical concerns, Late Ancient Knowing offers original ways of approaching not only what persons in the late antique world knew but by what criteria they ordered their world so that they could grasp it. Gathering innovative scholars who are widely recognized within the field, this volume delivers.”—Susanna Elm, Professor of History at the University of California, Berkeley and author of Sons of Hellenism, Fathers of the Church: Emperor Julian, Gregory of Nazianzus, and the Vision of Rome

“The essays gathered in this volume develop new and sophisticated ways of understanding late ancient knowledge within a historical context, bridging between the history of science (including topics like medicine and cosmology but also reaching out to subjects that anticipate linguistics, anthropology, and even zoology) and cultural studies. Well-written, cogent, and coherent, Late Ancient Knowing is very accessible to scholarly readers.”—Steven P. Weitzman, Abraham M. Ellis Professor of Hebrew at the University of Pennsylvania

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