On 16th-17th December 2005 a conference was held at the Institute of Archeology, University College
London with the title "Framing Plots: the Grammar of Ancient Near
The conference was jointly organised by members of the Institute of Archaeology, University College London, and of the Faculty of Oriental Studies, Cambridge University.
The aim of the conference was to provide a forum
in which ancient Near Eastern literatures (including Egypt) from the
earliest times to late antiquity might be examined with the analytic tools
of linguistics (especially discourse analysis), narratology, literary
criticism, and related disciplines.
‘The grammar of narrative’ had a twofold import, literal
and metaphorical. In the literal sense, the focus was on matching grammatical
patterns with the unfolding of the story, and detecting how grammar is
used to achieve desired narrative effects. In the metaphorical sense,
the focus was on how narratives are assembled: how plots are structured,
what constraints are placed on language and topoi, what strategies are
employed to enrich the narrative.
The event lasted from 9:45 to 18:00 on both days (16-17.xii.2005), with regular coffee breaks and an hour's pause for lunch. It was attended by over fifty people.
The conference was greatly enlivened and enriched by dramatic performances of the Mesopotamian story "The Poor Man of Nippur" and the Egyptian story "The Death of Osiris" by Fran Hazelton and June Peters, of ZIPANG. We are much indebted to ZIPANG for their contribution.
The conference included presentations by seventeen speakers from nine different countries, a summary speech by Professor John Baines, and two panel discussions. Click here for the full programme and here for the abstracts of presented papers. Three posters were on display during the conference; click here for descriptions.
We gratefully acknowledge the generosity of the Institute of Archaeology, University of London, which by providing funding made our conference possible. We are further grateful to The Complex and Literate Societies Research Group, Institute of Archaeology, UCL, for additional sponsorship.
Lastly and certainly not least, we are deeply grateful to Mr Stephen Fagg, webmaster of the Faculty of Oriental (now Asian & Middle Eastern) Studies, University of Cambridge, for his expertise and patience in creating, maintaining and updating this webpage.