Conference:”Medical knowledge and its ‘Sitz im Leben’: body and horror in antiquity (18-20/11/2021, Kiel + online)

This conference explores ancient and modern concepts of horror with reference to the human body. The aim is to examine how the body processes, affectively as well as cognitively, horrifying experiences and how it can turn itself into a source of horror, e.g. in contexts of sickness and death. While we are firmly aware of the fact that ‘horror’ as a largely post-Romantic concept is not unproblematic when applied to Greek and Latin texts, we will try to show that its classical antecedents and roots must be considered as they might shed light on the ways in which the horrific, as a category that shapes our encounter with various forms of art but also with life itself, is understood today.


18 NOVEMBER 2021
[*German time throughout]

11:00 - 11:20 Welcome/Introductory Remarks,  Chiara Thumiger
and George Kazantzidis (Kiel University, Germany / University of Patras,

Thinking about beginnings
11:20-12:00 A Terrible History of Classical Horror, Nick Lowe (Royal
Holloway University of London, UK)

12:00-12:40 Hot and Cold Blood in Lucan’s Civil War,  Dunstan Lowe
(University of Kent, UK)

13:00-15:00 Lunch

15:00-15:40 The Horrific Body in Sophocles, Glenn Most (Scuola Normale
Superiore di Pisa, Italy / Committee on Social Thought, Chicago,USA)
15:40-16:20 Heracles’ Automatic Body: Madness, Horror and Laughter in
Euripides’ Hercules Furens,  Maria Gerolemou (University of Exeter, UK)
16:20-17:00 The Visceral Thrills of Tragedy: Flesh, Blood and Guts Off and
On the Tragic Stage, Evina Sistakou (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki,


Horror between disgust and the sublime
10:40-11:20 Enargeia, Disgust and Visceral Abhorrence,  Dimos Spatharas
(University of Crete, Rethymno, Greece)
11:20-12:00 Fearful Laughter: Bodily Horror in Roman Sexual Humor, Jesse
Weiner (Hamilton College, Clinton, USA)
12:00-12:40 Apocalypse: Horror and Divine Pleasure,  Alessandro Schiesaro
(University of Manchester, UK)

13:00-14:30 Lunch

Horror and the natural world
14:30-15:10 Roots of Horror: Environment, Bodies, Societies,  Lutz Käppel
(Kiel University, Germany)
15:10-15:50 Horror and the Body in Early Greek Paradoxography, George
Kazantzidis (University of Patras, Greece)

Horror, demons, and (real) monsters
15:50-16:30 Naming the Monster: A Practice of Forensic Horror in Cicero’s
Pro Sexto Roscio Amerino, Sophia Luise Häberle (Humboldt Universität,
Berlin, Germany)
16:30-17:10 Demon Hordes and the Coming Apocalypse: The Limits of the
Human in Chinese Late Antiquity, Michael Puett (Harvard University,
Cambridge, USA)


Horror and modern medical science
11:00-11:40 The Thrilling Forces Behind Horrific Experiences: A
Neuroscientific Approach,  Rodrigo Sigala (independent researcher,
11:40-12:20 Overcoming Horror: Faintness and Medical Agents. Some
Tentative Thoughts on Antiquity and Today,  Lutz Alexander Graumann
(University Hospital, Justus-Liebig-University Gießen, Germany)

Horror, ancient medicine, magic
12:20-13:00 Recipes for Horrors,  Sean Coughlin (Institute of Philosophy,
Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague, Czech Republic)
13:00-13:40 At the Borders of Horror and Science: The Social Contexts of
Roman Dissection,  Claire Bubb (New York University, USA)

13:40-14:00 Concluding Remarks, Chiara Thumiger (Kiel University, Germany)

All further information such as abstracts and a link to join the conference online can be found on the organiser’s website.

Please, address all your inquiries to: and

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s