About the Institute

Acropolis viewMortality: Facing Death in Ancient Greece is a four-week Summer Institute funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Beginning from the premise that mortality is the condition that gives life its singular human quality, the goal of the Institute is to develop a multi-disciplinary approach to mortality in ancient Greece as the basis for rigorous and innovative teaching and scholarship in the Humanities. Under the guidance of experts, the Institute will bring together twenty-two college and university teachers and three graduate students to examine relevant material from a broad range of ancient Greek literary sources, visual and archaeological remains, and historical periods, ranging from the 8th to the 3rd centuries BCE. The Institute encourages the study of mortality in ancient Greece as the basis for comparative study across cultures, disciplines, and historical periods.

Please see the Letter from the Director for more detailed information about the Institute’s intellectual and pedagogical aims.

Location of the NEH Institute

The NEH Institute will be hosted by The Athens Centre in Athens, Greece from June 29 through July 26, 2014. The city of Athens, its institutions and environs, will serve as a laboratory for exploring what Alois Riegl (1982) called “intentional monuments,” objects and structures whose intended longevity functions as a defense against the finality of death. Our Local Guest Scholar, Dr. Michael Wedde will lead participants in specialized guided tours of Athens’ museums; the ancient Kerameikos cemetery and museum with its extensive collection of burial-related artifacts; and the ancient Athenian agora, which began as a cemetery before becoming the marketplace and political center of the city in the 7th century BCE. The Institute also includes a weekend trip to the Peloponnesus to visit sites that have direct relevance to the lectures and seminars, including the sanctuary and temple of the healing god Asclepius at Epidaurus and the monumental gravesites at Mycenae

Situated in a quiet residential area, within walking distance to all the major sites and museums of Athens, convenient to Athens’ extensive public transportation system, and affiliated with its many cultural and educational institutions, the Athens Centre will be the hub of the Institute’s activities. The Centre staff has extensive experience administering and providing support for university programs, as well as visiting scholars and artists, and will provide 24-hour emergency assistance to the NEH Institute participants. All lectures and seminars will take place in the seminar rooms of the Athens Centre. The Centre also houses a small library and a computer facility to which participants and visiting scholars will have access. More comprehensive library holdings will be made available to participants by prior arrangement with the Library of the Canadian Institute in Greece and the Blegen Library of the American School of Classical Studies. Please see our Sponsors page for more information.

Housing for visiting scholars and participants will be provided in the Centre’s furnished, air-conditioned studio apartments, each with a bathroom, a simple kitchen, and wireless Internet. The apartments are located in a residential area within a five-minute walk from the Athens Centre. Housing visiting scholars and participants together will provide a range of opportunities for intellectual exchanges and social interaction.

Format of the NEH Institute

During the first three weeks of the Institute, two visiting scholars will be in residence. Each will deliver a substantial formal lecture on the week’s theme, based on a list of assigned readings. The day following his or her lecture, each scholar will meet with the participants and the Director in a seminar setting. These seminars are designed to encourage close collaborative study of primary and secondary sources, and cross-disciplinary approaches to a common set of materials. At the end of each week, the Director will lead a summary discussion of the assigned readings, lectures, and seminars aimed at synthesizing the material, establishing its multi-disciplinary implications, and building bridges to the following week’s theme.

In addition to the scheduled lectures and seminars by visiting scholars, the first week will include orientations to the libraries at our collaborating institutions, the American School of Classical Studies in Athens and the Canadian Institute in Greece. During Weeks 2 and 3, un-moderated Working Groups will encourage individual discussion and collaboration. Each participant will also be invited to attend a working dinner with two of the visiting scholars during the Institute. These dinners will provide an opportunity informal interactions between visiting scholars and participants, as will the field trips and excursions arranged during the first three weeks.

Week 4 of the NEH Institute will be structured around a series of colloquia at which the participants will present their work-in-progress, followed by a question and answer period. Each of the six colloquia, to be scheduled over three days, will consist of four presentations each. Following the colloquia, the Director will facilitate a final seminar focusing on provisional conclusions, methodological challenges, and directions for future research and collaboration.

Please see our Daily Schedule for more detailed information.

NEH Summer Scholars Stipend

Individuals selected to participate in this four-week NEH Institute will each receive $3,300. Stipends are intended to help cover travel expenses to and from the project location, books and other research expenses, and living expenses for the duration of the period spent in residence. Stipends are taxable.

If you opt to stay at the Athens Centre, your housing expenses will be deducted from your stipend. Participants’ stipends, minus the housing fee, will be dispersed in one payment no later than 2 weeks prior to the beginning of the Institute. Applicants to all NEH projects, especially those held abroad, should note that supplements will not be given in cases where the stipend is insufficient to cover all expenses.