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Athens is both a museum of Greek history and a living entity: a laboratory for social experiments and a stage for ongoing conflicts. Defining features are the city’s dialogue with its past and reckoning with competing claims.  In this course, students have joined that many-sided dialogue. This blog, “Our Athens,” is our last writing exercise. We are each stepping into the curatorial culture of our times to digitally curate our own collection of 5 to 10 objects, buildings, images, ideas, or things coming from the city of Athens. Selection, captioning, and annotation of each object is an important part of the project. Out of the overwhelming number of ideas and things that have caught our attention this term, which pieces do we choose to create our handpicked assemblies? We’re looking to create new combinations to reshaping the museum of Greek history and adding to the living entity. The second part of the project requires making sense of the collection in a way that invites readers to take time to look at each piece and think further about how we care for long-lived entities such as our cities and the legacies people create from them.
We are building on prior learning:
  • Reading: Mary Beard, The Parthenon; John Camp, The Archaeology of Athens, Eleana Yalouri, The Acropolis: Global Fame, Local Claim; Johanna Hanink, The Classical Debt, “How Athens Built Its Brand”; several articles discussing how buildings and areas of Athens—especially the Acropolis—were transformed over the long stretch of time, mobilized elsewhere, and and how the participated in conflicts of power and the shaping of identities.
  • Viewing and analyzing images, things, maps, plans, buildings, and museum exhibits that are part of the visual representation of the city.
  • Visiting the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology to see actual ancient objects from Athens or inspired by Athens, learn how material objects are curated and presented, and how to write a caption.
  • Writing papers (1) on the exhibition of the Parthenon Marbles in the new Acropolis Museum; (2) transformations (such as additions, repurposing, conversions, demolitions, and archaeological restorations) of buildings in Athens; and (3) on a contest for authority, power, and identity played out on or around Acropolis.