Abstracts of Presentations
Dr. Michael Dixon — "Mainland Metropolis and Island Colony: Timoleon of Corinth's Expedition to Sicily."
The landscape of peninsular Greece is such that the sea is always less a day’s walk from any point within it. This geographical feature has always led mainland Greeks to look to the sea, the many islands of the Aegean and others beyond it. The Greeks’ need to look to islands beyond the Aegean was at no time more acute than in the second half of the eighth century B.C., a time at which its population began to explode. The lack of abundant and good agricultural land in the mainland compelled many poleis to turn to colonization. During this first wave of Greek colonization, no polis was more influential than Corinth. Its colonies founded in the second half of the eighth century included the islands of Lefkas, Corcyra, and most significantly Sicily. No colony developed into a greater power in ancient Mediterranean history than the Corinthian colony of Syracuse on the island of Sicily. It quickly became a flourishing mercantile center and the center of the Greek presence in the western Mediterranean world. Despite its individual prowess, Syracuse always maintained close ties to its metropolis Corinth.
During the fifth and fourth centuries B.C., Syracuse had cause to appeal to its metropolis for aid in its struggles with the Carthaginians, who had also colonized parts of Sicily in the eighth century B.C., and others who invaded the island and set their sights on its most powerful polis. This paper addresses one such episode in the 340s B.C. during which Syracuse came under the grip of the tyrant Dionysios II. Several Syracusans exiled by Dionysios or who had opted to flee their native polis appealed to their metropolis Corinth; the Corinthians dispatched a relatively small force led by Timoleon to aid their colony. This examination of Timoleon’s actions in Sicily between 347/6-341 B.C. is designed to illustrate the significance not only of an island distant from peninsular Greece, but also of the close connections maintained over centuries between a mainland metropolis and an island colony.
Josephina Kiteou — “Aphrodite’s birthplace on the island of Cyprus: a journey of the goddess’ beginnings.”
Immortalized in literature and artwork, the Greek goddess Aphrodite, later known by her Latin name Venus, continues to capture the audience’s imagination and awe with her compelling and energized entry into the world of mortals. Described by Hesiod as a “modest” goddess, her spectacular birth offers nothing short of a theatrical tour-de-force and little room for modesty. Cyprogenes, as she is often referred to by the locals, rose from the foams of the sea to land safely on the shores of the island’s city of Paphos. Green grass began growing enveloping her slender feet as she stepped ashore. Befitting a divine entrance, a most elite audience witnessed the goddess’ birth and accompanied her to join her rightful rank among the Olympian gods. Among others, Eros and Desire formed part of that entourage. It comes as no surprise that in modern times, the Romantic composer Verdi remains the crowd’s favorite among opera performances during Aphrodite’s festival celebrations held in the month of September of each year in Paphos. Ever since her theogenesis, the island of Cyprus has been known as the island of Aphrodite; the birthplace of the goddess of beauty and love.
The paper traces the goddess’ not-so-humble beginnings in Paphos, one of the island’s major cities featuring Aphrodite’s temples and sanctuaries such as Petra tou Romiou (the Rock of the Greek), and the baths of Aphrodite venerating the goddess since ancient times. Even though the cult of Aphrodite appears most prominent in Greco-Roman times, there is evidence of fertility worship among the Cypriot inhabitants even before the arrival of Greeks to the island. As a fertility goddess Aphrodite has been linked to her Sumerian counterpart Innana as well as the Phoenician Astarte. For its Christianized inhabitants Aphrodite remains a welcome and beloved association with the Mediterranean island’s rich history of pagan worship and tradition. After all, Aphrodite commands a force that transcends time, place, religion, and culture.
Dr. Jason Hardgrave — “The Islands and Identity of Venice, Italy”
Using Venice as a model, this presentation analyzes the interplay between physical and cultural geography, particularly the concept of islands. The insular nature of its construction created unique opportunities for shaping the physical and social space of the city. Venice is not a holistic city but rather an organic growth pattern composed of various, diverse regions and neighborhoods. Fashioned as it is of many islands, separated by canals, the physical, urban, geography of Venice does not appear to encourage cohesiveness. Bridges, both tangible and social, linked parts of the city and groups of its citizens. Socio-economic class, occupation, religion, ethnic groups, age, honor, and gender served to both divide the populace of the city, and to coincidentally unify smaller groups. What is so unique about Venice are the numerous ways the population developed for working with and around these aspects of urban, island geography.
Dr. Brian Posler —
“The Dominican Republic’s Quest for Identity”
The museums, monuments, and public art of the Dominican Republic honor the Spanish heritage of the island. This truly is an important influence, as the DR is the place that Columbus “discovered” the west, as well as home to the first western university and hospital. Yet the island is one of many contrasts, as the combination of opulence and poverty, as well as the influences of their Haitian neighbors, the historical Taino people, and the significant presence of the United States combine to insure that we must look beyond its public persona to understand this island neighbor.
Dr. Stephen Spencer —
“From Hawaiian Music to Rock and Roll: A Lesson in Cultural Appropriation”
Perhaps the most isolated archipelago in the world, the Hawaiian islands, the “crossroads of the Pacific,” where East meets West, are a locus of cultural hybridity. Nowhere is cultural mixing more evident than in the story of Hawaiian music. By the late 1800’s, Hawaiians had taken the Spanish guitar, brought by Portuguese immigrants, added steel strings, created a system of open tuning (“slack key”), and used railroad spikes from sugar plantation railroads on the strings to create the original slide guitar sound. Joseph Kekuku, a Native Hawaiian attributed to mastering the Hawaiian style and exporting it, led a group of Hawaiian musicians playing the ukulele and guitar in the Hawaiian building at the 1915 World Exposition in Seattle. The Hawaiian pavilion was the most popular at the exposition. Soon after 1915, the Martin guitar company began mass manufacturing ukuleles, and the sales of ukuleles soon outstripped guitars and mandolins. In the 1920’s the first electric guitars were played in the Hawaiian style. Between 1915 and 1955, the most popular music in America, measured by the sales of sheet music and recordings, was Hawaiian music, most of it written and performed by white artists. The influence of Hawaiians and Hawaiian music ultimately contributed to the development of the blues, electric guitars, country music, and rock and roll. The story of Hawaiian music has much to teach us about colonialism, cultural hybridity, and the reciprocal nature of cultural appropriation.
Dr. Betty Hart — “Graveyard Dirt and Other Poisons: Zora Neale Hurston in the Caribbean”
In 1936, anthropologist and writer Zora Neale Hurston was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship to study Obeah practices in the West Indies. Arriving first in Jamaica and traveling on to Haiti, Hurston collected a wealth of material evidencing the influence of African culture transferred to the Carribean by African slaves. She was particularly fascinated with voodoo as a religious following among the Haitians. Returning to Haiti on another Guggenheim Fellowship, Hurston immersed herself in the study and practice of this religion. The result was her book, Tell M y Horse, a collection of accounts of voodoo magic and rituals, along with descriptions of the loa, or voodoo gods. The title of this presentation comes from one of the chapters in the book, a chapter which catalogs various remedies and potions used in hexes, curses, and cures. In this presentation, I will discuss Hurston’s major findings abaout voodoo culture and how those findings reveal how African culture took root and thrived as a subversive adaptation of Western Culture in the Carribean.
Dr. Susanna Hoeness-Krupsaw — “Island of Hope or Despair?”
Scarlett Thomas’s 2001 novel Bright Young Things introduces six 20-year-old, well-fed and well-educated adults, who, after replying to a job ad that promises a “big project,” suddenly and inexplicably find themselves stranded on an island. Despite initial trepidations and the discovery of a corpse, eventually they would rather stay on the island than return to their lives of utter boredom and indifference. While their situation before their abduction reveals the complete absurdity of the human condition, their new engagement in communal activities on the island allows them to live their lives more authentically, a reminder of the novel’s existential overtones of Jean-Paul Sartre’s play No Exit. It is by contrasting elements from the protagonists’ lives before their abduction with their situation on the island that Thomas affords us a satirical look at this group. A member of the New Puritans literary group, the author may suggest that island life offers one way out of the characters’ private hell.
Dr. Mary Hallock-Morris — “Floating among the reeds: The impact of ecotourism on the islands of Lake Titicaca”
Is ecotourism really sustainable? According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), there is little consensus about the meaning of ecotourism even though the label has been applied to a myriad of tourism activities. In this paper, I will examine the environmental and cultural impacts of ecotourism and the public policies that promote tourism as a form of sustainable development. My case study analysis will focus primarily on the Uros and Taquile islands of Lake Titicaca in Peru.
Dr. Oana Armeanu — “Pirates between fiction and reality: from Treasure Island to Somali Pirates”
Fewer topics have captured our imagination to the same extent as pirate stories, real and imagined. Stories and movies about Captain Kidd and his hidden treasure, Barbarossa, Blackbeard, Calico Jack, and Jean Fleury, as well as Captain Flint (Treasure Island) or Captain Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean) cast an aura of glamour upon their heroes. Brave men living as outlaws, following their own code of conduct, fierce battles and endless adventures in search of lost treasures against the background of tropical islands, what better recipe for a successful story could there be? But who are the pirates in reality? How do modern pirates differ from the pirates of the Golden Age? Why do states seem so powerless in combating maritime piracy?
Dr. S. B. Darrell — “Songs of Scotland’s Highlands and Islands”
Here's an opportunity to brush up on your Scottish heroes and poets and singers: Robert the Bruce, William Wallace, Rob Roy, Bonnie Prince Charlie (Stuart), Robert Henryson, Robert Burns, Sir Paul McCartney, Roberta Flack, Rod Stewart. Surprised?
Over the past 400 years Scotland's poets and songwriters have contributed many works now staples of American music.
For example, this year we celebrate the 250th anniversary of Robert Burns's birth, Burns the most highly honored of all Scots poets, Burns who gave us "My Luv is Like a Red, Red Rose" and "Flow Gently, Sweet Afton" and the perennial New Year's song, "Auld Lang Syne." In addition, poets and sailors from the Western isles, the Inner and Outer Hebrides, celebrate their own islands (Mull, Uist, Mingalay), especially returns to those islands after months and years away.
War, too, led Scotsmen to write memorable poems and songs. The failures of the Scots against their centuries-old English foes (mainly Edward I, the Hammer of the Scots, and those Hanoverian-English kings named George whom we Americans fought, too) produced hundreds of works praising Bonnie Prince Charlie (Stuart) and longing for his safe escape after this disastrous battle at Culloden in 1746 and then dreaming of his victorious return to rule Scotland and England as the earlier Stuarts did. Among these songs, we think of "Over the Seas to Skye" and "Will Ye No' Come Back Again?" as well as "Loch Lomond."
Matthew Graham — Original Poetry
John Gibson — Original Poetry
Pat Aakhus —
"Into the West: Early Irish prose and poetry"
The Colloquium is presented by...
the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies, with support of the Center for Academic Creativity, College of Liberal Arts, and the Society for Arts and Humanities.
For more information, contact:
Pat Aakhus, Director of International Studies
Interdisciplinary Programs |