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Professor Verity Platt to give this year's Grose lecture

Professor Verity Platt

Verity Platt, Professor of Classics and Art History at Cornell University, will present this year's David F. Grose Memorial Lecture: "The Sentient Sponge: Between Natural History, Art History, and Philosophy." This year's lecture will be hybrid, with the Zoom link available here.

Dr. Platt specializes in Greek and Roman art history, with a particular interest in the relationship between ancient literary and visual cultures, especially in the Hellenistic and Roman periods. Her research and publications focus on ancient theories of representation and sense-perception; media and intermediality; the material and visual culture of religion; the historiography of ancient art (especially the author Pliny the Elder); art and ecology; Roman wall-painting and funerary art; Graeco-Roman seal-stones; Hellenistic poetry (especially epigram); and Greek literature under the Roman Empire.

Exploring how physical artifacts played an active role in the ancient production of knowledge, this lecture focuses on a rather unexpected object that was ascribed epistemic value in antiquity: the humble spongs. As naturally formed products of the deep, sea sponges helped thinkers across a wide variety of literary genres and philosophical positions to formulate relations between matter and mind, perception and knowledge, and reality and representation.

David F. Grose, who passed away in 2004, was for many years a faculty member in the Department of Classics at UMass Amherst, where his scholarly reputation as a leading authority on Hellenistic and early Roman glass rose quickly, and was sealed for certain by his magisterial Early Ancient Glass (Toledo Museum of Art), published in 1989. Professor Grose came to the subject of ancient glass before there were established methods for examining, identifying, and classifying glass fragments. His role in organizing the field is greatly appreciated by his fellow specialists in ancient glass, and his insights into the development of the industry for glass production in Augustan Italy are one of the foundations of the field as it currently exists. His posthumous volume The Hellenistic, Roman, and Medievel Glass from Cosa, edited by R. T. Scott, was published by the University of Michigan Press in 2017. The David F. Grose Memorial Lecture was inaugurated in 2005 with the support and encouragement of David’s family, especially his brother Dr. Charles Grose of Iowa City, Iowa.