Graduate Interdisciplinary Seminar / Uncategorized

GIS Report-04 Nov 2016

This week, GIS people had lots of fun – we had two super interesting
presentations.

Our first speaker was Henry Tang who is in the third year of his PhD
study in the Faculty. He looked at Statius’ Thebaid from a perspective
of gender study. The topic was “Who’s the Daddy?: Gender Reversals in
the Trope of the Abandoned Woman in Statius’ Thebaid”. Statius’ Thebaid
is a 12 book Latin epic poem that narrates the unsuccessful war of the
Seven against Thebes and its aftermath. Henry traced the character
development of one particular female character in the poem, Argia, from
her characterisation from modest virgin to an epic protagonist in her
own right. He showed that this transition is marked through
transgressions in the form of (partial) gender role reversals, with the
help of inter-textual and intra-textual comparisons. He then explored
the paradox that Argia’s role as a traditionally dutiful wife is
characterised by her untraditional, unfeminine actions. Also Henry
suggested that her role as wife of Polynices is also complicated with
suggestions of incestual relationships, as is often the case in an epic
dealing with Oedipus’family.

In the second section, we had a guest speaker from the University of
Manchester, Elaine van Dalen. She is now in the final year of her PhD
study and her working field is the transmission of classical texts in
Arabic. Her talk was about “The Medieval Arabic Reception of Galen’s
Thought on Childhood Illnesses”. In the 9th-century AD, the Arabic
scholar Ḥunayn Ibn Isḥāq translated Galen’s 2nd-century AD Commentary on
the Hippocratic Aphorisms from Greek into Arabic. This translation was
part of a movement in which numerous Greek works of philosophy,
medicine, astronomy and mathematics were translated into Arabic.
Ḥunayn’s translation of Galen’s Commentary inspired many Arabic
commentaries on the Aphorisms in the centuries that followed. In his
translation, Ḥunayn and his school made translational decisions that
were not always followed by the later Arabic commentators. Focusing on
the aphorisms on child disease in Book III, this paper explores the
influence of Ḥunayn’s translation of Galen’s terminology on eight later
Arabic commentaries (10th-14th centuries). In Elaine’s talk, through a
close reading of the digitised manuscripts of these medieval texts, she
showed examples of instances where the later Arabic commentators follow
both Galen’s terminology and his opinion. However, she also demonstrated
the places where they not only reject Ḥunayn’s translation of particular
Greek terms, but with that also Galen’s explanation of certain symptoms
of child diseases. With this paper, Elaine aimed to contribute to the
study of the reception of Greek science in the medieval Arabic world,
and in particular to the question to what extent the Arabic scholars
relied on Greek sources. While showing that the Arabic commentators
adapted many of Galen’s explanations, she argued that they also made
many innovations to his work, expanding both the Arabic medical
terminology that Ḥunayn developed to translate Galen’s commentary, as
well as the medical knowledge of the topics Galen commented on.

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