The project will explore the dynamic interplay between scientific and imaginative thought in ancient Greek and Roman culture, where the categories of ‘scientific’ and ‘imaginative’ thought were less polarized than they tend to be now. Specific areas for analysis include: the interplay between ancient astronomy and ancient literature; the role of mechanical automation and architecture in generating and enhancing sensory and imaginative experience; overlaps between ‘natural history’ and fiction. It is hoped that this study of the organic intertwining of scientific and imaginative thought will not only provide a new, deeper understanding of post-Classical culture in the ancient world, but also a provocative model for thinking about our modern context, especially in light of the increasing emphasis on the value of academic interdisciplinarity.
Karen ní Mheallaigh is a senior lecturer in Classics at the University of Exeter in the UK. Her research interests are in ancient fiction, and intersections between scientific and imaginative thought in antiquity. She is author of a monograph Reading fiction with Lucian: fakes, freaks and hyperreality (2014), and has just completed at the AIAS a monograph Selenography: the Moon in science, satire and fiction, exploring the Moon’s role in the ancient thought-world.