Program in Early Cultures

Research Groups

Reading, Discussion, and Study Groups at Brown

Brown University faculty and students associated with early cultures connect through events, collaborations, and programming. Among the most fruitful are the many groups that meet to share and discuss readings, to workshop papers, or to explore specific languages. This cross-pollination of ideas among scholars of antiquity makes Brown's community an exceptionally supportive and productive environment for interdisciplinary thinking around topics relevant to the study of early cultures.

Language-Based Reading Groups

Brown University hosts a number of informal groups whose members meet regularly to read and discuss an ancient language.  Some of these groups have met for years, or even decades, while new groups also frequently emerge based on shared interests among faculty and students.

Language-based groups of relevance to scholarship in early cultures include:

Thematic Reading and Discussion Groups

Faculty and graduate students at Brown University frequently convene discussion groups around topics of mutual interest. Some of these groups are finite in duration, focused around a particular conference or event, while others may continue for years or even decades. Currently, the Brown campus is host to the following groups meeting to read and discuss topics relevant to early cultures:

Brown Late Antiquity Group (BLAG)

The Brown Late Antiquity Group (BLAG) meets monthly for interdisciplinary discussion of scholarship related to the late antique Mediterranean, both east and west. 

Contact Isabella Grunberger-Kirsh.

The Bioarchaeology Reading Group

The Bioarchaeology Reading Group at Brown is a gathering of bioarchaeologists across Brown’s departments, where we meet to interpret data, workshop projects, and hone our methods in the study of ancient human skeletal remains. On occassion, we also invite experts from outside universities to share their theories of practice, and host these as events open to all interested community members. 

Contact Rachel Kalisher

East Asian Colloquium

The East Asia Colloquium invites scholars working across a wide range of disciplines to present talks or lead seminars on the latest research on East Asia and on transregional “crossings” to East Asia. 

Contact Beverly Bossler.

Digital Archaeology Lab

The Brown Digital Archaeology Laboratory, based in the Brown University Department of Anthropology, is a community of scholars working at the intersections of archaeology and digital practice. The lab was founded in 2016 as a center for teaching and research in archaeology and Geographic Information Systems, and we maintain core interests in that area, as well as a collection of GIS workstations that are available for students and faculty to use. Lab members’ activities also extend to a broad range of other digital domains, including mobile technologies, digital photogrammetry, remote sensing, machine learning, 3d visualization and digital collaboration. Across these domains, we maintain a strong commitment to critical approaches and ethical practice. 

Contact Parker VanValkenburgh.

Graduate Student Forum

Are you a Brown graduate student whose research deals with pre-modern history, society, or culture, from any disciplinary perspective, and focusing on any geographical region? If so, the Program in Early Cultures invites you to participate in our PEC Graduate Student Forum: a space for graduate student community, interaction, and exchange, between and across our scholarly specializations.

We will meet with programs designed around your requests, led by panels of you and your colleagues. 

Contact Amy Russell.

Cultures and Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean (CRAM)

The Brown University seminar on Cultures and Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean (CRAM) serves as a gathering to promote high-level, interdisciplinary dialogue among faculty and graduate students who deal with religion and culture in the ancient Mediterranean basin and west Asia in the broadest terms. CRAM meets monthly during the academic year. Each meeting lasts about an hour, and typically is centered on a pre-circulated paper by one of our participants.  We are especially interested in work in progress; CRAM is a great context for working on new ideas and thinking through new problems.

Contact Amy Russell, Director of the Program in Early Cultures, or Lauren Arsenault,  Administrative Coordinator for the Program in Early Cultures.

Below is the CRAM schedule for the 2023-4 academic year. Please note that all meetings will take place on Tuesdays, 12:00-12:55 p.m. Papers will be distributed by e-mail approximately ten days prior to the date indicated for your preparation. Newcomers are always welcome!

CRAM Schedule AY 2023 - 2024

Fall 2023

September 12- Nancy Khalek, Religious Studies and History: "Emotion from 450 to 750 CE"

October 17- Marko Vitas, Classics: "Comparisons Compared: The Homeric Simile in its Eastern Mediterranean Context"

November 14- Max Peers, JIAAW: "Rebellion and Historical Consciousness at the Sanctuary of the Divine Palikoi, Sicily"

Spring 2024

February 13- Susan Harvey, Religious Studies: "With Tongues of Fire: Angelic Song in Syriac Tradition"

March 5- Eva Stehle, UMD Classics emerita: "Sappho and the Afterlife"

April 16- Tara Baldrick-Morrone, Classics: "Contextualizing Ancience Chritian Abortion-talk"

May 7- Christelle Alvarez, E&A: topic TBA