Presto, Changeo!

March 26, 2009 (Thursday) / 5:00 pm6:30 pm

Rainey Auditorium, Penn Museum, 3260 South Street

Presto, Changeo!

Magicians in Ancient Times

Peter Struck

Associate Professor of Classics, Penn
Author of Birth of the Symbol and "Change" Topic Director

2009 Undergraduate Humanities Forum Conference Keynote

Peter Struck, associate professor and undergraduate chair of Classical Studies, and topic director for the 2008-2009 Penn Humanities Forum on Change, describes the herbs, effigies, incantations, slander, and ritual abuse that ancient magicians used in order to manage life’s vicissitudes.

Peter Struck took his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Chicago. His primary research interests are in ancient sign systems, including theories of the sign in literary criticism, in divination through oracles, omens, and dreams, and in medical symptomology. His award-winning first book, Birth of the Symbol: Ancient Readers at the Limits of their Texts (Princeton University Press, 2004), explores how readers of Homer in antiquity found extraordinary insights in his epic poems.

In 2004, Prof. Struck received the Lindback Award, the University of Pennsylvania's highest award for teaching, and in 2006 received the Distinguished Teaching Award from Penn's College of General Studies. He has held fellowships from the National Humanities Center, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Whiting Foundation, and the Mellon Foundation, and has been invited as an eligible scholar by the Center for Advanced Studies in Behavioral Sciences at Stanford.

Currently at work on a study of Greek and Roman divination, he also has edited two volumes: a collection of studies of ancient divination, Mantikê (Brill, 2006) and the forthcoming Cambridge Companion to Allegory (Cambridge University Press). He has published widely in professional journals on ancient philosophy, religion, magic and divination, and literary criticism, and has given dozens of lectures at universities in the United States and Europe.