3-6 January 2023, an Annual International Conference on Humanities and Arts was held in Athens

On the 3-6 January 2023, an Annual International Conference on Humanities & Arts in a Global World was held in Athens, Greece, organized by the Athens Institute for Education and Research (ATINER), at which over thirty papers were presented on different problems and aspects of history, geo-culture, migration, data analysis, arts, language and socio linguistics.

One of the most interesting papers was given by Professor David P. Wick, Gordon College, USA, titled, ‘Plato’ Academy and the “Roman Market”, in which the emergence of such school, its development and success, and the related academic institutions of the time were described, their goals, success and deterioration analysed. Professor Wick emphasized the aspirations of the teachers of the Academy, which have been retained in present-day education in the concepts of knowledge and motivated instruction, students’ development and their prospective careers in accord with the aspirations of the period. This presentation had a foundation in the historical context, which is regretfully missing in modern language studies today.

Professor Michael Mazur, North Texas Performing Arts Academy, USA, spoke about how and why Aristotelian Tragic Themes have a function and make sense today “in a divided society“. Like the presentation of Professor Wick, Mr Mazur’s presentation was very becoming in modern Athens, where Organisers of the Conference always emphasise that the Conference is hosted virtually in the neighbourhood of the site of Plato’s Academy and such forms of entertainment as a Symposium have literal resemblance to the symposia of antiquity.

Professor Aleksandra Tryniecka presented on the question of marriage and independence of Victorian woman as reflected in Anthony Trollope’s novels. The insights of this speaker into how Anthony Trollope represented feminine characters, their strive for independence, his literary merits and achievement made this presentation an elevated talk, not very frequent in present-day discussions. It was especially interesting to listen to Professor Tryniecka because she studied Victorian literature at the University of Athens a few years ago and could even speak Modern Greek.

Another speaker, Apolonia Kuc, PhD students, from Jagiellonian University, Poland, spoke of the status and legacy of Jewish migrants to Great Britain in the 19th and 20th centuries. This geopolitical question was echoed in the presentation by Professor Irena Kossowska, Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, Poland, who spoke of Emigrant memory, trauma, longing and loss in the art of Jȯzef Czapski.

A speaker from Taiwan focused on questions of architecture, a Korean and Israel speakers analysed social problems, speakers from the USA and Egypt analysed poetry. The topics varied as did their interpretations and the speakers’ insights.

Professor Bogna Lakomska, Academy of Fine Arts Poland, surprised some members of the audience with her insightful analysis of Zoomorphic representations on Chinese Bronze Vessels (Shang Dynasty). It is the openness of the modern world which enables young people to travel and study objects of interest the world over.

Marija Liudvika Drazdauskiene presented on the question “Why humanities may be losing out in a global world”. This presentation highlighted how much has been lost in studies in the humanities in sixty years when the mystery of language waned, when all languages became virtually chez nous and none really foreign to the learners and when  students’ inclinations are effort-saving. This speaker saw a prospect in taking over the tradition of classical studies who “have retained deep and immersive study of texts, history and philosophy”, while these subjects are neglected in modern language studies.

This Conference had a rich and educational cultural programme, which was renewed by the Organisers. Even for those who took an Educational Urban Walk: Athens Old and New, a third and a fourth time, had much new to learn about the vegetation in the National Park, about the monuments in the Centre, restauration of the Parthenon and the history of Greece.

A visit to the Oracle of Delphi refreshed the knowledge of the Greeks beliefs, their ways of worship and investment. As this visit happened in January, almost all the participants managed to climb to the level of the Theatre at the Delphi Oracle and take photos of the ruins of the Temple of Apollo from above. Lunch, which followed at the Taberna Omfalos, prolonged impressions of ancient Greece as the group could enjoy museum replicas of ancient Greek artifacts there.

A voyage to the Greek Isles on the final day of the Conference refreshed the visitors with a sea breeze and the sights on the Isles. Hydra was said to a pedestrian Island where the main means pf transport are donkeys. It is only an ambulance, emergency service and the police who drive cars. This is the Island of Water, a true sanctuary of the disappearing world in rubbish and pollution. St Mary’s Monastery left the impression of a happy place as did the whole of the Island of Poros. The Island of Aegina was praised for its world class pistachios and cotton, for the Church and sanctuary of St Nectarius, the last beatified Saint, in 1962, in Greece.

The Conference ended and the participants parted reluctantly. So interesting and inspiring an event, rich in impressions, and the trip will long live in the memory of all the participants. It takes an exceptional country to give so much to the participants at only one Conference in three days. The shared feeling of interests and enjoyment was the merit of the hospitable people of this Mediterranean country.