Sarcophagus of Janius Bassus. Picture by Giovanni Dall'Orto

Sarcophagus of Janius Bassus. Picture by Giovanni Dall'Orto

Rhetoric and Religious Identity in Late Antiquity
Thursday 23rd - Saturday 25th April 2015


A conference at the University of Exeter, held under the aegis of the South West Late Antiquity Network.

The topic of religious identity in late antiquity is highly contentious, with significant debate revolving around the reasons for shifts in self-identifications, the degree to which any labels (ancient or modern) for religious categories reflect a real sense of unified social identity, and the malleability and potential overlapping of religious identities. Although most scholars agree that identities were constructed and expressed through forms of 'rhetoric', a systematic study of rhetoric's meaning and influence in this context is still required.

The conference aims to develop current research by exploring various forms of construction and negotiation of religious identities (both individual and communal) in late-antique written texts and material culture, focussing on the 'long fourth century' (roughly from the Tetrarchy to Theodosius II). In particular, we will emphasise the importance of rhetoric to this question, incorporating both rhetoric as used by late-antique figures themselves and also the rhetoric evident in the later construction and use of markers of religious identity. Not only will we employ a broad conception of the notion of ‘rhetoric’ which includes literary material and the artistic, epigraphic, numismatic and architectural record, but we will also aim at a more conceptually-informed and illuminating understanding of what is meant by ‘rhetoric’ in this context.

Speakers include: Nic Baker-Brian, Douglas Boin, Barbara Borg, Raffaella Cribiore, Mark Humphries, Robin Jensen, Aaron Johnson, Maijastina Kahlos, Carlos Machado, Neil McLynn, Karla Pollmann, Shaun Tougher, Peter van Nuffelen and Michael Stuart Williams.

The conference will run from lunchtime on Thursday 23rd to lunchtime on Saturday 25th. Online registration is now open and places are limited. We are not charging a fee to attend the conference, but if you wish to attend the Conference dinner on the Friday, you can book this through the online booking system for £35.00 (including wine).

Please follow the link to book online

Here is the Draft Programme for the event.

This conference is organised by Dr Richard Flower and Professor Morwenna Ludlow  and is generously supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the University of Exeter.

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