Reception across the Disciplines: Theory & Praxis, Past & Present, Form & Content


Reception across the Disciplines: Theory & Praxis, Past & Present, Form & Content

Two adjacent color photographs showing ancient Roman figurative sculptures wearing colorful saris

Artworks created by Preeti Chopra (2023 Fellow) during her fellowship last year (photographs by Daniele Molajoli)

Reception and tradition are two sides of the same coin: the way culture lives over time. In this conference, itself built around a four-day residency of scholars at the American Academy in Rome—a minireception of its own—we will explore different aspects of this activity. Our aim is not so much to define or redefine something that has engaged many and greater minds for a long time—what is the idea of a “renaissance” without an underlying one of “reception”?—but rather to show how it operates constantly and everywhere, up to our own day, and across the familiar and unfamiliar corners of our territory.

In a series of lectures, conversations, and social interactions, over a dozen scholars, curators, and writers from around the world will gather to discuss the ways in which we give and receive themes and movements, the methods by which we achieve this process of creation and recreation, and what we can learn from how generations have shifted their dynamics of understanding based on their own desires and trends.

Reception is the study of how we create ideas of the past in the present. While tradition implies a passive acceptance of influence over time, reception is an active process of interpretation: finding meaning in the past in ways that are relevant to our lives in the present, and to the possibilities we envision for the future. Reception theory not only allows us to grapple with the intangibility of the past—which exists only in our ideas about it—but also to process our lived experiences with reference to the past. The conference Reception across the Disciplines: Theory & Praxis, Past & Present, Form & Content brings together influential thinkers from across the world and the disciplines represented by the American Academy in Rome. Like the two-headed Roman god Janus, an emblem of the Academy, the conference looks to both the past and the future, recognizing the two as intrinsically linked through our lives in the present.

This event will be held in English.

The conference, to be presented in person at the Academy as well as on Zoom, is free and open to the public (no registration necessary).

Tuesday, March 5

This event, hosted by Jack Markell, the Ambassador of the United States to Italy, at his residence, the Villa Taverna, is by invitation only. Video from the conversation, however, will be streamed live on YouTube.

Conversations|Conversazioni – Reception, Tradition, and Translation
Jhumpa Lahiri (2013 Resident), Barnard College
Ramie Targoff (2013 Resident), Brandeis University
Moderated by Kate Meng Brassel (2024 Fellow), University of Pennsylvania

Wednesday, March 6

Today’s events take place at the American Academy in Rome.

Fellow’s Roundtable: Kate Meng Brassel (2024 Fellow)
Translation at the Margins: Toward a Prehistory of Future Antiquities
Respondent: Constanze Guthenke, Oxford University

Welcome and Introduction

Patricia H. Labalme Friends of the Library Lecture
Eugenio Refini (2022 Fellow), New York University
Transformance (or how to think about the “here-and-now-ness” of reception)

Stephen Greenblatt (2010 Resident), Harvard University 
Marlowe and Shakespeare under Siege

Coffee Break

Martin Devecka, University of California, Santa Cruz
The Future in Ruins

Constanze Guthenke, Oxford University
Disorientations: Classical Scholarship in America

Conversations|Conversazioni – Pompeii in the World
Mariko Muramatsu (2022 Visiting Scholar), University of Tokyo
Allison L. C. Emmerson (2019 Fellow), Interim Andrew W. Mellon Humanities Professor, American Academy in Rome, and Tulane University

Thursday, March 7

Today’s events take place at the American Academy in Rome.

Fellow’s Roundtable: Anne L. Williams (2024 Fellow)
Sacred vs. Sacrilege: Visual Parody before the Reformation and Its Modern Reception
Respondent: Avinoam Shalem (2016 Resident), Columbia University

Welcome and Introduction

Lucrezia Cippitelli, Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera
De-linking and Artistic Research: Toward a Deconstruction of Eurocentric Narrations

Avinoam Shalem (2016 Resident), Columbia University
The Terror of Terminologies: The Idea of “Renaissance in Islam” and “Classical Epoch” as Mirrored in Scholarly Writings of Past Records

Coffee Break

Sarah Nuttall, Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of the Witwatersrand
The Reception of the Research University in Africa: Notes from the South

Christina Huemer Lecture
Denise Murrell, Metropolitan Museum of Art
HBCUs, PWIs, and the Asymmetrical Reception of the Harlem Renaissance

Conversations|Conversazioni – Creating Elena Ferrante and the Romanticization of Naples
Cecilia Schwartz, University of Stockholm
Rachel Donadio (2014 Affiliated Fellow), writer and cultural critic
Introduced by Ilaria Puri Purini, Andrew Heiskell Arts Director, American Academy in Rome

Date & time

Tuesday, March 5–Thursday, March 7, 2024

American Academy in Rome
McKim, Mead & White Building
Via Angelo Masina, 5
Rome, Italy
Security notice

For access to the Academy, guests will be asked to show a valid photo ID. Backpacks and luggage with dimensions larger than 40 x 35 x 15 cm (16 x 14 x 6 in.) are not permitted on the property. There are no locker facilities available. You may not bring animals (with the exception of seeing-eye/guide dogs).


The Academy is accessible to wheelchair users and others who need to avoid stairs. Please email us at if you or someone in your party uses a wheelchair or other mobility devices so that we can ensure the best possible visitor experience. If you are someone with a disability or medical condition that may require special accommodation, please also email us at

Event sponsorship

The Helen Frankenthaler Foundation generously supports Conversations/Conversazioni at the American Academy in Rome. 

This program is made possible with the support from the Getty Foundation through its Connecting Art Histories initiative.