Princeton Athens Center: One Year Later

By Julie Clack

Last fall, the Princeton Athens Center opened its doors for the first time to a small group of 55 faculty, students, alumni and friends. One year later, under the direction of the Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies, the Center has burgeoned into a hub of activity for Princeton scholars in Greece, hosting long-standing international conferences and new programs alike.

The International Network for the Comparative Humanities (INCH) retreat kicked off the Center’s event series. The INCH retreat is a consortium that promotes interdisciplinary exchange between Princeton faculty and graduate students from English and comparative literature with their counterparts overseas. “The Center’s scale and layout make it a haven for humanist inquiry and conversation,” said Maria DiBattista, professor of English. “With small seminar rooms that encourage lively discussion, a larger area for screening films or hosting a guest lecture and a lovely garden to relax over coffee or sit in silent contemplation, the Center invites you in and makes you feel at home but is also close to the heart of things.” 

In July, the 21st meeting of the Symposium Aristotelicum convened for several sessions at the Princeton Athens Center. The Symposium invites over 30 established scholars from around the world to present on a theme in Aristotle’s philosophy or texts. “Sessions at the Symposium are traditionally rather long: three hours, with a coffee break,” said Ben Morison, professor of philosophy. “After six days, with two sessions every day, we were ready to relax, and we did that with a reception on the Center’s rooftop terrace. It was a perfect culmination to the Symposium as a whole.”

Capping off the Center’s summer programming was the Liquid Antiquity workshop, where a small group of classicists, poets, archaeologists, curators and artists gathered to reflect on the multimedia project, “Liquid Antiquity.” “The Center, intimate and welcoming, offered an ideal environment to incubate intellectual and creative cooperation between scholars and artists working in Princeton and in Greece,” said Brooke Holmes, professor of classics. “The group together extended the project’s experiment with new forms of engaging a broad public in thinking about classical antiquity and its legacies and laid the groundwork for further collaboration.”

 “The Princeton Athens Center’s inaugural events exemplify both the interdisciplinary and international nature of the Center,” said Dimitri Gondicas ’78, founding director of the Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies. “We anticipate the Center will continue cultivating a dynamic community of Princetonians and scholars abroad by expanding its existing programs and adding several new ones in the near future.”