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Sue Kelly and Michael Hayes

By Departmental Research Seminar

Tuesday 3 September 2019 (Week 6), 2-3.30pm

The Department of Ancient History in conjunction with the Macquarie University Ancient History Association (MAHA) offers a research seminar series, intended to bring together those within Macquarie and outside who have an interest in the languages, histories, and cultures of the ancient world. View the schedule for the research seminar.

All are welcome! Please arrive on time and join us after the seminar for coffee, tea and biscuits!

Convenor: Dr Alexandra Woods Twitter


Sue Kelly | PhD candidate, Macquarie University

Connect with Sue on Twitter: Twitter

Old Data – New Perspectives: Changing the Lens on Early Dynastic Womens’ History

Scholarly commentary regarding the women from the Early Dynastic Period has so far not been able to provide a satisfactory account of their lives and possible roles within the State. Earlier interpretations, influenced by androcentric binary cultural constructs and ethnocentric modelling, diminished women’s participation predominantly to harem women and concubines. The results of the recent titles study on the stelae/funerary slabs from the first two dynasties, however, revealed women were both public and active in the new State. By applying inter-disciplinary theoretical approaches, it is now possible to re-situate the women into their cultural context by demonstrating their engagement in the five main sectors of the State – kingship, ideology, mortuary culture, ritual cult and administration.

The sectors are mutually dependent and constitute the wheel that drives the socio-economic environment of the State. The new perspectives regarding women’s agency in the Early Dynastic Period can be illustrated through the construction of new frameworks. Firstly, an “Operational model of the socio-economic environment of the ancient Egyptian State” is utilised to demonstrate women’s contributions in the major sectors of the early State. This information is then augmented by applying the data within a sociological context. This is achieved by correlating the sectors of the State with Michael Mann’s domains of social power. By incorporating the data from the stelae study with the details of the Early Dynastic ruling queens, a second framework can demonstrate women’s engagement and access to the domains of social power.

Michael Hayes | PhD candidate, Macquarie University

‘Rethinking’ concepts of historical change and transformation from Aristotle to contemporary critiques of postmodernist approaches to history

Contemporary Dutch philosophers of history – Frank Ankersmit and Eelco Runia (Groningen University) – have devised new conceptual frameworks applicable to ‘turning points’ in history. They assume distinct positions with regard to the critical poetics of change as initially viewed through the prism of the classical world – in particular, Aristotle’s peripeteia (Poetics) and, in the company of the Epicureans, Lucretius’ declinare/clinamen (De Rerum Natura) – as well as the late twentieth-century historical thinker, Hayden White and his ground-breaking work on tropes (Tropics of Discourse, 1978).

Ankersmit’s Sublime Historical Experience (2005) presents how advances in diagnosing trauma have revealed new approaches to the ancient notion and experience of the ‘sublime’, while Runia’s Moved by History (2014) has intensified these insights, investigating how, throughout history, human beings arrive at ways of knowing themselves only by facing and recognizing, paradoxically, what they are not. They encounter this altering realization as a ‘threshold’; an ‘inventio’. At this ‘bridgehead’ they stand at the brink of what is beyond them, and are unpredictably impelled toward it; often to ‘step across’ into the allure of ‘transformation’. And events and the lives of people ‘are changed, changed utterly: a terrible beauty is born.’ (W.B. Yeats, Easter, 1916).

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Departmental Research Seminar

The Department of Ancient History in conjunction with the Macquarie University Ancient History Association (MAHA) offers a research seminar series, intended to bring together those within Macquarie and outside who have an interest in the languages, histories, and cultures of the ancient world.