The American Research Center in Eygpt

LECTURE: Agency and Passivity in Ancient Egyptian Art

LECTURE: Agency and Passivity in Ancient Egyptian Art

LECTURE: Agency and Passivity in Ancient Egyptian Art

Lecture Thursday, March 10, 2016 at 6:00PM

Speaker:  Dr. Ann Macy Roth, Department of Art History and of Hebrew & Judaic Studies, New York University, (to be introduced by Catherine H. Roehrig, Curator, Department of Egyptian Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art).

Location:   Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP    7 Times Square, New York, NY 10036     23rd Floor Reception (Entrance to 7 Times Square is on Broadway at 42nd Street, next to The Loft.  Photo ID is required to enter the second elevator bank to the 23rd floor reception).

ABSTRACT:  In Egyptian tomb chapels, the wall decoration often shows the tomb owner watching an array of activities, his passivity illustrating his (or very rarely, her) superior status in comparison to the other people represented.  The king, by contrast, is more often seen taking an active role, and in fact those scenes in which an official is shown more actively in his tomb decoration are very likely borrowed from the royal repertoire.  Another group of people, foreigners, can be shown actively or passively, depending on the context.  Useful parallels to the representation of passivity in art can also be found in ancient Egyptian literary works. 

Wall from the tomb of Pepiankh-heryib at Meir Drawing from Yvonne Harpur, Decoration in Egyptian Tombs of the Old Kingdom (London and New York: KPI, 1987), figure 77, p. 480.

This talk will expand upon the speaker’s previous work on the representation of passivity, which examined the phenomenon in relationship to questions of status, power, and gender.  The sociological concept of agency will be invoked in an attempt to make sense of the patterns of passivity and activity found in a variety of contexts.

ABOUT THE SPEAKER:  Ann Macy Roth received her doctorate from the University of Chicago, and currently teaches in the departments of art history and of Hebrew & Judaic studies at New York University.  She is the author of two books, Egyptian Phyles in the Old Kingdom and A Cemetery of Palace Attendants, and articles on a wide variety of subjects, with several more of each currently in preparation.  Her research has centered on the Old Kingdom cemeteries of Giza and Saqqara, where she has directed seven seasons of epigraphic and archaeological research, and on the representation of gender roles in art and texts.

For more information see lecture flyer >>

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