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Classical and Modern Interactions

Classical and Modern Interactions
Postmodern Architecture, Multiculturalism, Decline, and Other Issues
December 1992
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204 pages | 6 1/8 x 9 1/4 | 80 halftones, 2 line drawings |

Postmodernism, multiculturalism, the alleged decline of the United States, deconstruction, leadership, and values—these topics have been at the forefront of contemporary intellectual and cultural debate and are likely to remain so for the near future. Participants in the debate can usefully enlarge the perspective to a comparison between the Greco-Roman world and contemporary society. In this thought-provoking work, a noted classics scholar tests the ancient-modern comparison, showing what it can add to the contemporary debates and what its limitations are.

Writing for intellectually adventurous readers, Galinsky explores Greece and Rome as multicultural societies, debates the merits of classicism in postmodern architecture, discusses the reign of Augustus in terms of modern leadership theories, and investigates the modern obsession with finding parallels between the supposed "decline and fall" of Rome and the "decay" of U.S. society.

Within these discussions, Galinsky shows the continuing vitality of the classical tradition in the contemporary world. The Greek and Roman civilizations have provided us not only with models for conscious adaptation but also points for radical departures. This ability to change and innovate from classical models is crucial, Galinsky maintains. It creates a reciprocal process whereby contemporary issues are projected into the past while aspects of the ancient world are redefined in terms of current approaches.

These essays result in a balanced assessment and stimulating restatement of some major issues in both contemporary U.S. society and the Greco-Roman world. The book, which speaks to a wide interdisciplinary audience, is based on a series of lectures that Galinsky gave as a national visiting scholar for Phi Beta Kappa. It concludes with a discussion of the role of classical studies in the United States today.

  • Preface
  • I. Classicism in Postmodern American Architecture
    • Classicism and Modernism
    • Three Pioneering Examples
    • The Conceptual Framework
    • Domestic Architecture
    • Commercial Buildings
    • Campus Architecture
    • Large Public Buildings
    • Some Implications
    • Short Bibliography and Suggestions for Further Reading
  • II. The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire: Are There Modern Parallels?
    • Some General Definitions and Perspectives
    • “Decadence”
    • Single-Cause Explanations
    • The Explanations of the Intellectual Historians
    • “Immoderate Greatness” and “Imperial Overstretch”
    • America and Rome: Some Comparisons
    • Short Bibliography and Suggestions for Further Reading
    • Appendix: 210 Reasons for Rome’s Fall
  • III. Reading Vergil’s Aeneid in Modern Times
    • “Modern” and “Historical” Interpretation
    • Some Points of Convergence and Divergence
    • Aeneas and Modern Concepts of Masculinity
    • Social Responsibility: Vergil, Aeneas, and Vaclav Havel
    • Distrust of Rhetoric in the Aeneid and Today
    • Internal Heroism and Strong Emotions
    • Short Bibliography and Suggestions for Further Reading
  • IV. Leadership, Values, and the Question of Ideology: The Reign of Augustus
    • Some Views of Augustus
    • Leadership: The Moral Dimension
    • “Ideology” versus Pragmatism with an Ethos
    • Tradition and Innovation
    • The Moral Culture: Architecture and Art
    • Conclusion
    • Short Bibliography and Suggestions for Further Reading
  • V. Multiculturalism in Greece and Rome
    • Some Definitions
    • Greece before Alexander
    • Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic Period
    • Rome
    • Multiculturalism Then and Now
    • Selected Bibliography and Suggestions for Further Reading
  • VI. Rome, America, and the Classics in America Today
    • America and Rome
    • The Role of the Classics in America Today: Some Observations
      • Life beyond Academe
      • Classics in Its Academic Setting
      • Two Current Issues: Elitism and the Importance of Theory
    • Short Bibliography and Suggestions for Further Reading
  • Notes
  • Index

“" . . . a set of provocative and entertaining essays on the interplay of ancient and modern and the way in which postmodern architecture, multiculturalism, the Aeneid of Virgil, and the fall of the Roman Empire can illuminate one another and the state of the modern world and of contemporary America . . . . Galinsky's lively and provocative essays open up very interesting lines of thought, and their reasoned opposition to 'cultural tribalism ' is timely . . ."”
New York Review of Books


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